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Tag Archives: Robert Frost

Celebrating Spartanburg’s Revolutionary War History at Walnut Grove Plantation

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Come one! Come all! It’s Festifall at Walnut Grove!

Watch history come alive at this Upcountry Plantation this weekend.

Saturday, October 6
10 am-5 pm
Sunday, October 7
10 am-4 pm
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Historic Re-enactments with the South Carolina Independent Rangers
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Toy making
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Enjoy talking to the reenactors who can both tell and show you about how Charles and Mary Moore lived. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing. They had to hunt, fish, or grow their own food. Dishes and utensils were crafted of wood or pewter. Clothes and tools were made. Nothing was easy.
Charles and Mary Moore established the plantation c. 1767.  They raised ten children in the house they built and lived in for 40 years. During the Revolutionary War, the Moores, including daughter Margaret Barry/Kate, supported the Patriot cause. Local militia mustered at Walnut Grove prior to the Battle of Cowpens.
Loyalist William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham raided the plantation in November, 1781 and killed a Patriot soldier sheltered by the Moores. There will be a reenactment of this battle.
Robert Frost wrote, “Freedom lies in being bold.” Our immigrant ancestors that fought for their lands were dedicated to staying in America. Loyalists/ Tories were not going to steal it from them.

Dr. Andrew Barry Moore/Dr. Jeff Willis will open his office once again both afternoons for visitors to Festifall. Learn how medicine was practiced during the 18th century. (Leeches were only a part of this story!)
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The untrained farmers/militia that fought for our freedom during the Revolutionary War were heroes and heroines that we must not forget. Visiting a celebration like Festifall helps us all to remember the price they paid, lest we forget.
 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”–President Ronald Reagan
It’s going to be a fun weekend. I hope to see you there!


Judith Giton: A Carolina Matriarch and Woman of Substance

In 1684, nineteen-year-old Judith Giton escaped from her home country, France, because of her religious faith. Choosing not to change her Huguenot religion to Catholicism, government restrictions curtailed their lives in France.

The Huguenots were followers of John Calvin and part of the Protestant Reformation. They believed in Bible study and prayer to guide their lives. Worshiping simply was important.

Under house arrest, with her mother Madeline and two brothers, Pierre and Louis, they all fled in the middle of the night with little more than the clothes on their backs. They had planned for weeks their escape route. Even though the guards pursued them, they were helped by sympathizers to their Huguenot faith.

Other Huguenots had left their homes because of the legal and financial harassment from the government that was meant to impoverish them. Over 200,000 fled; 2300 left for America.

Finally sailing from London, the voyage wasn’t easy. Scarlet fever ran rampant on the ship, and Judith’s mother died of this disease. With a layover in Bermuda, the three siblings arrived in Charles Town. They were penniless. This noble family worked the land to survive, and within two years, both brothers died.

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Pestilence, hard work, famine, and death were their companions. One new settler described his first impressions in a letter saying, “a sail from a boat was our first house and the earth our bed. A cabin like that of savages…was our second house.”

Judith married a man not of her social status; Noe Royer was a weaver; this was considered a mesalliance. He bought land and built a house on Church Street. The couple had three children.

Shortly, 35-year-old Royer died, and Judith married another French Huguenot named Pierre Manigault. Manigault was a cooper/barrel maker, and they had two children. Again she married outside her social status. Since Judith had inherited Royer’s house, they stayed there. She took in boarders for extra money. In a seaport town like Charles Town, there was always a full house.

Joining the French Huguenot congregation that met in its church building on Church Street, the blended family was faithful in attendance. Expanding his business to include distilleries, he was wealthy by 1710.

What a brave, single woman Judith was to leave for America; she survived by working hard and putting aside her nobility. She was one of the first women to begin a new life here. When Judith’s life was finally an easier one again, she died in 1711.

The American poet, Robert Frost, wrote, “Freedom lies in being bold.”

Little is known of Judith Giton’s life, and they are mostly facts. Below is a letter, written six years after her arrival, she wrote to the soldier brother that stayed in France; she describes her early life here. Judith was a survivor, and she chose a new life and independence here in America.

This South Carolina woman struggled, but never gave up. The understatements in it speak louder than the details she chose not to include.

“For eight months we had suffered from the contributions and the quartering of the soldiers, on account of religion, enduring many inconveniences. We therefore resolved on quitting France at night, leaving the soldiers in their beds, and abandoning the house with its furniture. . . . [They hid for ten days, then traveled from city to city to get out of France. At one point they were only 90 miles from where her brother, to whom she is writing, was stationed as a soldier.] Mother and I entreated my eldest brother to consent that we should go that way. . . . It was in the depth of winter. But he would not hear of it, having nothing in his mind but “Carolina,” and dreading to miss any chance of coming hither. The thought that we thus lost so good an opportunity to see you at least once more, has been a constant source of grief to me, ever since.

After this, we passed into Holland, in order to go to England. We were detained in London for three months, waiting for a vessel ready to sail for Carolina. Once embarked, we were miserably off indeed. The scarlet fever broke out in our ship, and many died, among them our aged mother. . . .

Our vessel put in [at Bermuda] for repairs, having been badly injured in a severe storm. Our captain . . . was thrown into prison, and the ship was seized. It was with the greatest difficulty that we secured our passage in another ship, for our money had all been spent. After our arrival in Carolina, we suffered all sorts of evils. Our eldest brother died of a fever, eighteen months after coming here. . . .

We ourselves have been exposed, since leaving France, to all kinds of afflictions, in the forms of sickness, pestilence, famine, poverty, and the roughest labor. I have been for six months at a time in this country without tasting bread, laboring meanwhile like a slave in tilling the ground. Indeed I have spent three or four years without knowing what it was to eat bread whenever I wanted it.

God has been very good to us in enabling us to bear up under trials of every kind.

from “Letter of Judith Giton Manigault,” trans. by Charles W. Baird in History of the Huguenot Emigration to America, Vol. 2 (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1885), 112–114.

The present French Huguenot church was built in 1844 and is located on Church Street in Charleston. It is the oldest Gothic Revival Church in South Carolina. This congregation is Judith Giton’s congregation, and it is breath-taking.

I applaud the Giton family’s move to the colony of Carolina. Walking away from what was known and familiar to a world that held a slew of unknowns took courage. Judith Giton worked hard to survive; this matriarch of the Manigault family has influenced our state for the better.

As Helen Keller said, “Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

Trail Signs

Have you ever wondered how people make their way to where they wanted to go during the colonial period?

A term, “By Guess and By Golly,” came to mean inspired guesswork, an early form of navigation that relied upon experience, intuition, and faith.

Brigadier General Francis Marion as a young man, went to sea. As a sailor, he learned to use a compass and a sextant and the stars to navigate. Those skills served him well when moving from one battle to the next during the Revolutionary War.  His men often remarked at how precise his movements were in the murky swamps of South Carolina. He did not guess his way through.

Many Indians, hunters, and travelers used axe blazes on tree trunks as trail signs. There is a major highway in South Carolina that has the name Two Notch Road, because it was an old buffalo trail that Indians used where they carved two notches in the trees. (And yes, there were buffalo in South Carolina. They migrated from the salt licks in Tennessee to the coast.) Those cuts into the trees cleared a path for others.

In Dr. Thomas Walker’s Journal of Exploration [of Kentucky], 1750, he says, “I Blazed a way from our House to the River.” & “I blazed several trees in the fork and marked T. W. on a Sycamore Tree.”

(Can you imagine having to blaze a trail from our house to a water source?)

John J. Henry’s An accurate account of the hardships of that band of heroes who traversed the wilderness in the campaign against Quebec in 1775 reports, “A path tolerably distinct, which we made more so by blazing the trees.”

Some travelers marked both sides of trees so that the trail could be run both ways. Trees marked on one side indicated a blind trail, used a lot by prospectors who didn’t want anyone following them. Indians usually nicked off small specks of bark with their knives while trappers and settlers may have used hatchets or broad axes. In the universal language of the woods, these marks meant “This is your trail.”

Another trail sign was to reach into an overhanging limb and bend a branch into an “L” shape meaning, “This is the trail.” The twig broken off clean and laid on the ground across the line of march means, “Break from your straight course and go in the line of the butt end.” When a special warning is meant, the butt is pointed toward the one following the trail and raised in a forked twig. If the butt of the twig were raised and pointing to the left, it would mean “Look out, camp, or ourselves, or the enemy, or the game we have killed is out that way.”

But what did one do when finding themselves in a treeless areas such as grasslands or expanses of spartina, desert areas, or rocky regions? They used rocks, pebbles, sticks, and patches (tussocks) of grass.

Thousands of years ago, American Indians along the east coast established a system of paths and trails for hunting, trading and making war on other tribes. Most followed the migration paths of animals and along routes and fords across streams and rivers.

The Great Trading Path, or the Occaneechi Path, was one of many Indian trails in use when the English first explored the Carolina backcountry during the late seventeenth century.

By the early to mid 1700s, the Trading Path provided European-American explorers and colonists a well-traveled route for settlement and trade. They traveled by foot, horseback, and wagon from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia and from South Carolina and Georgia. The Trading Path became known as the Great Wagon Road because of this increased traffic. Following portions of the original path, the Great Wagon Road crossed Virginia into North Carolina. The route was not just one path, but many. One branch of the path led to Charlotte and another through the Waxhaws and on through Charleston, SC, and eventually to Augusta, Ga.

Blazing a trail has taken on a new meaning to me as I have looked at these early days, and I really am glad we have those GPS systems.

Robert Frost examines this in his poem, The Road Less Traveled.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”