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South Carolina – Memories of Swansea


 More Swansea SC History


These memories of growing up in Swansea, South Carolina were penned and submitted by John Joseph Howell. (Disclaimer)

Remembrances of Long Ago

Written December 22, 2006

The earliest that I remember is around 1945. My brother Rembert and myself were sitting in front of the fireplace eating from a fruit basket. To my knowledge that was our only Christmas present. We lived at that time on the now Laird Hill Road in Lexington County, four miles south of Swansea in a section of Lexington County known as Poole's Mill. Our house was a field house that had been torn down and brought up to the road and rebuilt by my grandfather, John Henry Wise, and was situated by grandfather's home. Grandfather Wise had relocated from the Ft. Jackson area in Richland County when the army had purchased his land for the military post around 1918. My poor mother walked four miles one way to work in a sewing room for 10 cents an hour. She carried what groceries she could buy. She had a very rough life. She endured with faith and lived to be 96 years of age.

Across from our home was a store and house combination that my grandfather Wise had built for my uncle, Henry Wise, to operate. The building was constructed as a wooden frame with tin covering on the roof and walls. It had no insulation. There were round support metal posts out front of the store. It was quite an experience during a hard downpour of rain. At this time Eva Spires and her children lived in and operated the store.

Grandfather had been dead for sometime and my aunt Delores Wise Lucas had acquired the property. My aunt and uncle, Jones and Delores Lucas, were living in the house down the road about 200 yards. The house was referred to as the "White House". They in the meantime purchased another tract of land known as the Jake Mack place and removed to this new home. My mother having lost her husband in 1941 moved also with them to a small house on the old Mack place.

My sister Mary had left home and was working in Columbia. That left myself, Rembert, and Loyce, all siblings. I remember one night there was a commotion outside. Mother with her shotgun pointed at the front door shouted to find out what was going on. Her children were lined up behind her. A colored man said "please ma am our car broke down would you mind if we fixed it." Mother gave them the okay and we retired for the night.

Mother learned later that Mrs. Lila Jeffcoat was telling men who came to her store that they shouldn't go down close to our house that there was a woman living there that would shoot and ask questions later.

I remember my brother and I would go daily to the big house and listen to the Long Ranger since my aunt had one of those battery radios. Neither house had water or electricity. Saturday night we would all gather for the Grand Old Opera from Nashville. This was one of the highlights of our lives so long ago.

Once when brother and I were going home, me trailing behind him, this little man about three feet tall crossed the path between my brother and me. He had a wide brim black hat on and was carrying a brown sack on his back. I called out to brother and he stopped to see what was wrong. The little man had entered the bushes and only the movement of the bushes could be seen. There was no wind blowing. This happened near an old cemetery. Now I wonder if this man could be a carpetbagger who was killed and buried on the property right after the War of Northern Aggression.

Later my aunt and uncle decide to move back into the house they had moved from. We followed and returned to our old home. My brother and sister were going to school in Swansea. I would enroll in the fall. On my first day at school a fine teacher, Mrs. Haigler, asked me how close did I live to another school in the area named Mack School. I told her about a mile. Upon the word of a six year old this teacher uprooted our lives. She sent me home with a note that I would have to attend Mack School, not bothering to check the validity of a six year old as to the distance from our house to the other school. Mack school had no transportation for students so I could not attend.

Mother, marrying Artemus Mack shortly after that and moving closer to town, solved the school problem. Mr. Mack had bought an acre of land and had purchased an army barrack building that was torn down from the Columbia Airport in West Columbia and put back together with a few minor alterations into a home. This airport was an army air base during WW2.

I attended school in Swansea from the first grade through the eighth grade before moving to Columbia. Our sisters had secured an apartment that would accommodate all of us. I attended University High School for my ninth grade. This was a teaching training school for the University of SC. Because of this you had to apply to enter. I remember a stern lecture from the principal, Mr. Harvey. He said, "Remember young man you are here for the school the school is not here for you. If you get out of line I will send you to another school." I made the best grades ever at this fine school. The classes were small and had two teachers, one in training and one to oversee and train the young teacher. During the summer between the ninth and tenth grade we had been able to purchase a home in Cayce and I entered the tenth grade at Brookland-Cayce High School.

One day before school started mother said let's go and fine you a job. We stopped at Vaiden's Red and White store on Frink Street. Mother asked for the manager and Mr. Vaiden informed he was the manager and owner. She told him my son needs a job. He hired me on the spot as a bag boy later allowing me to work the produce department. This was the beginning of my work career. I had worked during the summer at an Amoco gas station in Eau Claire for a few weeks. The owner paid me $2.00 per day to pump gas while he slept. He was an alcoholic. I attribute working at the Red and White helped me more in life than any job I had since. I learned how to get along with people and deal with customers.

Brother Rembert obtained a job at Atkinson's Shell station on Knox Abbott Drive and helped me get a job there. I worked fifty five hours weekly for 50 cents an hour. I made $27.50 weekly and got one Sunday monthly off. I worked from six until midnight Monday through Friday. To get a night off I worked Saturday from six until six. Sunday my shift was twelve to twelve. I worked alone at nights. Usually some friends would come by and after closing at midnight we would go to Doug Broome's Drive in on N. Main St. in Columbia. This drive in had the radio disc jockey on top of the building playing the top forty songs of the times. This was in 1958 and 1959.

The Esso station across the street offered me a job reducing my hours from 55 to 40 and my pay from 50 cents to $1.00 per hour. I thought, "It can't get any better than this." Carl R. Taylor owned this station. I worked there until graduation and was planning to join the SC Army National Guard. To do this I would have to go into the regular army for six months.

After basic training at Ft. Jackson I was transferred to Ft. Stewart, Ga. This was the largest post in America as for as land size. There were only about 1500 soldiers stationed there. This post was sustained financially from the sale of timber.

This was peacetime but I recall one happening of a soldier getting "wounded". I had finished walking guard duty and had lined up to eat chow. Armed with our weapons which were loaded we had to clear them before entering the chow hall. The soldier in front of me was armed with a .45 and was clearing the weapon when it went off. The round hit the paved walkway and glanced up and struck another soldier in the calf of his leg. We were all stunned and pointing. The wounded soldier was looking around to see what we were excited about. Looking down he saw his leg bloody and passed out. He didn't seem to have any pain until he saw his wound.

This was the same time that Elvis Presley was serving his country. There was a rumor he was to be transferred to Ft. Stewart to be discharged. Since Elvis was a tanker and the tankers were on the second floor of my barracks we all thought Elvis would be assigned likewise. The town of Hinesville had put up a banner saying ‘Welcome Elvis'. I remember seeing one across the entrance leading onto the post. Elvis never made it. He was transferred to Texas where he was discharged leaving all disappointed. I was discharged shortly after on February 8th 1960.

Written December 24th, 2006

During WW11 some of the German prisoners of war were sent to this country to help out on the work force. Some were assigned to farmers to help on their farms. Many became attached to the families and stayed in touch and visited after returning to Germany. I recall seeing Germans working in front of our home on Laird Hill Road.

Father died in 1941 leaving mother and four children with no income. As I mentioned earlier mother walked four miles to town to work in a sewing room earning 10 cents an hour. Pay was not in cash but in coupons for "staple" food items. How we made it I will never quite understand but I can honestly say I don't remember ever being hungry.

I remember getting a new pair of shoes for Christmas. I was around the age of four. I can see these shoes today. They were brown with high tops. When bedtime came I would not let my shoes be removed and therefore awoke the next morning well on to being dressed. I wonder today if maybe America has lost the appreciation of the little things that people used to be thankful for and strived to obtain.

Once one of us kids were ill and the doctor prescribed a medicine that cost only 37 cents. Mother did not have the money but went to the drug store and asked Dr. Roy Johnson if she could get this on credit. Dr. Johnson immediately filled the prescription. After a short time mother walked the miles to town to pay her debt. Dr. Johnson looked through his small file box and said. You must be mistaken you don't owe me anything. Mother insisted but he would not take her money. I think I know where Roy Johnson is today.

At the end of my father's life Dr. L.C. Brooker would come to our house routinely to check him. One day checking his awareness he asked dad if he remembered them playing ball together. Father shook his head in a positive way. This proved valuable later in my genealogy search as I found family ties with the fine Brooker family.

When father passed away mother told Dr. Brooker she would pay him in time to which Dr. Brooker stated, "I don't charge orphans or widows' "I believe L.C. Brooker and Roy Johnson may be sharing company with each today.

Mentioning my genealogy research I found that Dr. L.C. Brooker's grandfather, Rev. William Brooker, and my great grandfather, John Jacob Howell, operated mills on Bull Swamp. Rev. Brooker married for one of his wives my great grandmother, Martha Williamson Howell's sister. The town of Swansea was later formed. My great grandfather purchased over 5,000 acres on Bull Swamp for the sawmill venture he and William Brooker under took. I am proud to say I learned to swim in Bull Swamp Creek with my brother Rembert overseeing.

Some of the merchants I remember from Swansea include: Craydell Huttto, barber, George Simmons Grocery, Henry Simmons, pool hall, John Roberts' Grocery, Boozer's Grocery, Roy Johnson's pharmacy, Henry Sharp's Grocery, James Mack's Coffee Shop, Jake Mack's Grocery, Williams' Hardware, later to be Lybrand's, Schecter's Dry Goods, Lucius Martin, operating the movie theater, and Berry's Grocery. I am sure I have left someone out.

Mr. Lybrand was another good man. He operated Lybrand's Hardware. Mother told me one day let's go to town and get you a rifle. I was eleven or twelve and this shocked me because she was very protective of her children. She told me when she was a little girl her father gave a rifle to her and she hunted many a day by herself on the property now Ft. Jackson.

When we arrived at the hardware store she told Mr. Lybrand she wanted to lay a way a .22 rifle and she could pay $1.00 every couple of weeks. Mr. Lybrand approved this and he showed us a .22 single shot Winchester. This is the rifle she felt she could afford. The cost was $13. I have this rifle today and would not take a thousand dollars for it.

Another trip to town to make another lay a way payment, balance now $7, Mr. Lybrand undoubtedly feeling sorry for myself took the rifle down and said, "give your son this rifle, pay me when you can." I wonder if he was related to Roy Johnson and L.C. Brooker. Of course mother continued making her payments until the debt was paid. I mentioned this to mother in her latter years and she said I don't remember that. I can't imagine buying a rifle for someone that young.

Before Rembert left for Columbia mother came down with pneumonia. She was confined in bed and could not do anything in her condition. One morning Aunt Wizer Jones showed up and immediately started cooking breakfast and getting us ready for school. Aunt Wizer was a midwife who delivered my brother and myself. She was a wonderful black lady. She walked a mile one way for a couple weeks fixing breakfast and getting us off to school. When we returned from school she had lunch and our clothes were washed when needed. To this day we don't know the circumstances of her showing up to help. I do know where she is today. What a wonderful Christian lady!

Written December 24th, 2006

Jesse James was feeling the heat from the law in Kansas and decided to go to Florida for a cooling off period. He and his gang headed straight to the East coast and then down toward Florida. James stopped at John Reeder's home near Sharon Cross Roads Methodist Church near Swansea, SC to spend the night. Some have said John Reeder was an outlaw. A nearby Smith Cemetery has a stone that reads, James Smith, Murdered by John Reeder. This indicates that Reeder could have been characterized in the correct way.

The next morning being Sunday Jesse attended church services at Sharon Church. Witnesses have handed down he sat with his back to the wall fearing some type of ambush. He wore his sidearm in church.

My grand uncle, James Carson Howell lived near the church along with his daughter Mary Minnie and son in law, Jimmie V. Smith. I wonder if they were at the service, both being members and buried in the church cemetery. From there they continued on to Florida. The State Newspaper has carried two articles on this historic visit of Jesse James along with a descendant relating passed down information.

Jimmie V. Smith lived in the old Smith Pond home place his father John Smith built. It has been told that as the house was being built John Smith and family lived in a smaller house on the property and had just moved into the new, two story plantation style home. General Sherman's troops came and informed John that he and his family had to move back into the old house because his larger house was needed as a hospital. When the Union troops left, the house was spared from the torch. The old home has a large pond and in the 1940s well known as a swimming place. Today the old home still stands with a garlic garden producing from many years ago.

Jimmie was a schoolteacher and taught at the Swansea school and the old Athens School near Gaston. Jimmie and Mary Minnie Howell Smith had a son, Milo Smith, who was a lawyer in Lexington and a state legislator. He was known as the Bull Swamp Senator. When he answered roll call he would say to the effect "Milo Smith of Bull Swamp present."

Tommy Powell was a very talented athlete at Brookland Cayce High School in the 1950s. At this particular game he was named captain. Coach Ben Moye told Tommy if B-C won the game he would get the game ball. B-C did not have a winning team that year and was behind by a large margin with time running out. The other team after scoring a touch down kicked off. Tommy was back as a receiver and caught the ball. Instead of running toward the opponent's goal he turned and ran out of his end own zone and ran down the sidewalk toward home with the ball. He was determined to get "his" game ball.

Written December 25th, 2006

Tommy Powell's story did not end here. After graduation he turned down football scholarships with USC and Clemson to sign with the NY Yankees. He hitched a ride to Florida where the Yankees were in spring training and signed for a $500 signing bonus. After getting the money he hitched a ride back home never to play sports for anyone. Today I wondered what happened legally with the Yankees.

Tommy was drafted in the army and after a few weeks he was riding around Cayce on a motor scooter. I asked him how could he get a pass so soon. He replied, "I just left without one." Shortly after this he was killed in a tragic automobile accident in Georgia.

When I was eight years old I came down with an illness. I had severe paint in my lower right side. The doctor treated me for two weeks making daily house calls. On his last trip he told mother to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible. The doctor decided to do exploratory surgery. They found my appendix had almost burst and removed them.

The anesthesia of the day was ether. I remember the mask being placed over my face. At some point I was suddenly in a tunnel suspended in flight. The tunnel was spinning and there was a loud, high piercing sound such as a siren. At the end of the tunnel was a small bright light, which continued to get bigger as I neared. Just as I was starting to enter this window of light, now as big as a double window, I heard the voice of the doctor saying, "We almost lost him but I believe he will be all right now". I was awaking from the anesthesia. The complete time in this tunnel I did not know anyone and had no worries, completely at peace. Mother explained this was from the effects of the ether. I accepted this until the 1970s when I saw on TV a special on after death experiences. The show described the tunnel, being suspended in flight and the light at the end.

During my hospital stay I was introduced to chocolate milk. One of the nurses' assistant asked me if I wanted regular or chocolate milk with my meal. Of course that was an easy choice. I knew of chocolate milk but never had any. Later in my young life I ate my first hamburger at Zesto's at Five Points in Columbia. I was entering my ninth grade.

Going back to the days living on the Jake Mack's place I remember Aunt Delores Lucas running into our home crying her husband, Jones, was dying and for us to come help him. My mother, brother Rembert, and myself rushed to the tin barn where she said he lay. As we entered the barn Uncle Jones was sitting up in the hay with a smile on his face, which revealed what he was drinking. Nearby was a glass jar of bootleg whiskey. We all helped him get to the house with nothing lost except his dentures.

There was no harder worker than my uncle Jones Lucas. I remember seeing him plowing all day with his jar of water at the edge of the field. One day he had two sacks of fertilizer, one on each shoulder, running down the rows fertilizing two at a time.

Written December 26th, 2006

Uncle Jones Lucas had a son in law, Haskell Spires, who was the policeman for the town of Swansea. One day he and Uncle Jones were arguing on the front porch. Hass was a husky man in his 30s while Uncle Jones was a lean man in his 70s. The argument got kind of heated. To remedy this Uncle Jones picked Haskell up and threw him off the porch and ended the confrontation.

While on duty one day Haskell Spires pulled John Neese over for some kind of violation. John pulled his shotgun from the car and got behind a stone pillar and started firing. Haskell remained in his car and unloaded his revolver at Neese. This happened on Highway #321 in front of the Baptist Church.

As Spires lay in his seat to reload his left arm was raised exposing him to a load of shot, which struck him in the shoulder. Chief Spires had an assistant, Clarence Senn, who approached Neese from the rear stating, "John, lay the gun down, we have to go down to the jail." Neese complied and ended the shoot out. To this day I never heard where John Neese was convicted of anything.

As I mentioned previously we moved from Laird Hill closer to town so I could begin school at Swansea. Our new home was on highway #6 out of Swansea toward St, Matthews. I had a small dog that was white with brown spots named Rover. He followed me everywhere. A car struck and killed Rover. I was sad and lost without him.

One morning I awoke before any of my family. Usually I would be the last one to rise. For some reason I went out the back door and down the steps. I heard a noise and looked under the steps and saw a dog that looked identical to my Rover. This was a miracle that no one could explain. Of course I named him Rover.

One day my brother Rembert, my self, and some friends were playing in the field beside our home. All of a sudden two small single engine airplanes appeared overhead in the sky with the pilots waving. They made a pass and then landed in the field.

We ran toward them fearing something was wrong. One asked us which way is Columbia. We pointed the way and they took off in the direction that we had shown. Things like that just don't happen today. To say that I had a boring childhood would be incorrectly stated.

I remember in the fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Knotts, who was a wonderful person as well as a fine teacher. One day she announced she was going to R. J. Rucker's home after school. He had just returned from the hospital. She said she could carry five students in her car and would see that they would get home. It seems R. J. put a .22 rifle bullet on a post and then shot the casing with his BB gun causing the bullet to explode. The casing came backward and struck him in the eye causing him to lose the eye. We spent a couple hours at R.J.'s house and then she made sure we all got home.

Written December 27th, 2006

My brother Rembert and I would rise early on cold winter mornings to check some rabbit boxes he had made and placed in the woods. It wasn't unusual to find a possum in the boxes. We caught several rabbits also. Many young boys had their rabbit boxes in those days. One day Rembert and I found two gray foxes that were motherless. They were wandering in the woods. We took them home and fed them. One died but the other made it to adult hood. This fox was mischievous. He would sneak around and bite our dog as the dog lay sleeping in the yard. The fox would not let us pick him up.

Our nephew, Larry, was living with us. He must have been two or three years old. The fox would let him pick him up. I have heard of other stories where a small child could pet or play with wild animals and older people could not. I suppose the animals identify innocence with small children. We also had some flying squirrels and an owl we raised that wouldn't leave when we released them.

The fox got into mother's chicken pen and was causing havoc. Brother and I were in school. Mother had Eugene Cauthen, who was boarding with us, to shoot the fox. We were sad when we came home and our fox wasn't there. I believe that ended our wild animal raising.

An old saying is you never really get to know anyone. This can be proven with an event in my life. As a teenager I worked as a service station attendant and met Jerry Mason. He told me he just got discharged from the army and had been traveling out west. I believe he mentioned Texas. His parents were living here and operating a motel.

He was a clean cut and a really nice person and was attending USC. We became friends. After closing the service station at midnight it was common for some of my friends to meet at the local drive in restaurant where young people hung out. Jerry and I along with my brother Rembert had made this venture many times. As I was about to enter my basic training at Ft. Jackson Jerry told me he needed to get a part time job. I let him know of my army plans and he could have my job of which he did. As the years passed Jerry eventually wound up as an Esso dealer. He was very successful financially and was able to buy a lake home and continue to live in town.

As most of the time with our friends getting married we all went our own way seeing each as conditions permitted. In 2000 or 2001 I saw Jerry at an automobile dealership. He asked about my family and I of his. About two months later he was arrested for the murder of two policemen in California in 1957. This was shocking to the people who knew him. He was always helping his neighbors and seemingly a good citizen.

He had married and raised two grown daughters. There were no indications of any problems in his past. I feel for his family who had to adjust their lives over night.

Written December 30th, 2006

The old Huckabee Mill place near Swansea has been in my family since 1867. Macon Huckabee, my great grandfather, moved there after marrying his second wife, Margaret Sightler. Lavinia Scott was his first wife and my lineage. She died in 1866. Macon Huckabee's first home place was on Scouter Creek in the Edmonds area of Lexington County. (Click here to see a historic photo of Huckabee Mill)

When he proposed to Margaret she informed she would marry him but she would not live in the same house or sleep in the same bed as his first wife. This brought Macon to his new home. This had to be a tough decision. Macon had a mill and farm and was doing quite well.

Macon stayed in the mill business. He constructed a pond of over sixty acres. People all over came to grind their corn. His venture at the new place was equally successful as the old one. The old mill is known today all over Lexington and Calhoun Counties. Sandy Run Baptist Church used the old pond for baptismal in the 1920s and maybe earlier.

After Macon's death in the 1890s his son Darling Huckabee continued the successful operations of the farm and mill. Darling bought several store buildings on Main Street in Swansea and had a store across from the mill. It is said that Darling loved his spirits. Once after a doctor visit and the doctor stating that he should give up drinking, Darling said," now doc you know I'm not going to do that." He died not to long after that.

Darling Huckabee never married. The old place was willed to my aunt, Belle Rebecca Howell who married James Hallman. Aunt Belle's son, Marlus and wife Lessie Chaney now owns the old home place.

Huckabee Mill Swansea
Huckabee Mill – John Joseph Howell

The town of Swansea emerged in 1893. My grandfather, John Henry Wise was one of the committee members who set up the first elections. The business district of the town is only one block resembling towns you may have seen in the early western movies. My uncle Henry Wise operated a dry goods store in the old building that once was the Gantt Hotel. Henry's uncle, Martin Luther Wise, operated a restaurant in the early 1920s. Mother and her brother John worked in the restaurant. It is not clear why the name Swansea was selected. There are several streets with Welch names as is the name of the town. Apparently someone in the naming process had ties to Wales.

Lucius Martin operated the movie theater in the 1950s. I remember the cost of a ticket was nine cents. On a Saturday afternoon you could watch the main attraction, cartoon, serial, the Three Stooges, and the world news. I spent many Saturdays in this old theater with the western stars of the day, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, and many more. The first time I saw "Gone With the Wind" was in this theater. Since this was a popular movie seems like the fare was .50, a high price in those days.

Written January 27th, 2007

I believe the education a student received in the 1950s and earlier in Swansea was the finest ever in this country. It seems like most of the teachers felt like teaching was a calling and the income it produced was not in the consideration when they chose to be educators. The income teachers earned in those days was in the range of service station attendants and store clerks. I remember a friendly conversation once with a teacher. I asked her why she wanted to educate me to make more money than she was earning. I don't recall her answer. I'm sure some type of disciplinary measure would have been appropriate. Teachers earnings have increased today rightly so but I will challenge anyone who says the quality of teachers today as being better than in the old days.

All of these fine teachers at Swansea had the students at heart while striving to not only educate but to show moral guidance in these young lives. I remember my homeroom teacher in the eighth grade, Mallie Smith, always opening class with a pledge of allegiance to the flag and a song that suited the occasion. Other teachers I remember: Mrs. Haigler, Miss Sharpe, Miss Peters (later Mrs. Robinson), Mrs. Knotts, Miss Hazel Dowling, Mrs.Witt, Coach Doug Bennett, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. McCormick, Mr. Eleazer, Coach Landrum, Mrs. Hill, Mr. And Mrs. Hoover. Hugh Taylor was principal.

The elementary school building I attended was the old brick two story former high school building. Each room had a potbellied coal stove. I remember Mrs. Knotts assigning two students as having the responsibility of making sure the coal bucket was filled at all times. These students could at any time leave their seats to replenish the coal in the stove as well as going to the basement to fill the coal bucket. This is unimaginable today in our present school system with all the modern conveniences.

Times were hard for most people in the post depression times. I remember hearing my sister, Mary, recalling a day at the old Mack school. One student came to class in the coldest of the winter without a jacket. The teacher wrapped the student with newspapers and sent him home.

In the early 1950s the school started the lunch program where all students could eat lunch regardless of ability to pay. One student continued to eat after the bell had rung to return to class. I sat next to him and he said he hadn't eaten in three days. He told me later he ate five or six bowls of soup with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The worker in the lunchroom told him he could eat as many bowls as he wanted. I informed the teacher of this when he did not answer roll call. He returned to class late and the usually strict teacher offered no penalty.

It seems like Swansea always had at least one doctor, sometimes two. This is hard to figure since most small towns had a time finding doctors who wanted to live in rural areas. Three of the doctors were home grown, Dr. L.C. Brooker , Dr. William Brooker, and Dr. Hubert Rast. Other doctors who practiced in Swansea were: Dr. Johnson, Dr. Edwards, Dr. Langford, Dr. LaRoche, Dr. Allen, and Dr. Granger.

Written February 2nd, 2007

Sardis Baptist Church is one the oldest churches in the Swansea area. Ebeneezer Methodist at Poole's Mill is older having been founded in the 1700s. Sardis was started in 1835. My gg Grandfather, Carson Howell, was one of the organizers and the first minister. He named the church Nemo. Later the name was changed to Sardis. There are at least two maybe three previous locations for this church.

A few years ago I was in conversation with one of the ministers of Sardis. He informed me that people with no known ties to the church or to the area have requested a loved one be buried in the cemetery. This is sort of a mystery as to why this is ongoing. My father, grandparents, sisters, several uncles, aunts, and cousins are buried there. I would like to think that the faithful members of this church with their many good Christian deeds have influenced people's lives to make these requests, some having moved away but still thought of Sardis in a positive way.

Behind Sardis Church is an area known as Powder Cave. Old sayings claim that during the union forces' intrusion through the area, confederate soldiers hid gold and gunpowder in the caves of this land. I have visited but saw no caves. There are high banks though and perhaps a cave could have been dug and over time the opening was filled. Whether a myth or legend it is one of the many stories that is recalled and retold by people who live in and around Swansea.

At different times when acquaintances of mine asked me if my people who lived in Swansea ever dealt with bootleg whiskey, I informed them that anyone who had relatives that lived there before and during the depression probably had family members who if not making or selling surely had a sip once in awhile. For many making and selling whiskey was a way of feeding their family in those tough times years ago.


Disclaimer: As a public service, SCIWAY publishes memoirs submitted in an effort to help preserve the great history and characters that make South Carolina unique. We do not confirm or uphold as fact any details regarding people, places, events, or narratives. Please enjoy these recollections just as they are intended – as great stories.


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