The Gray Court Owings Historical Society will not have Pioneer Day on the second Saturday in September for the first time since it started in 2003…our age and health have become barriers to the preparations required for this celebration of history. We are just a handful of senior citizens who love history and are dedicated to preserving our past and sharing it with our community. Our love for history and this festival have not diminished…but our strength and endurance have.
We are so proud to have had 15 ye
ars of fun and learning with Pioneer Day at the Culbertson Backcountry Settlement in Gray Court and Owings. We really do hope that some younger volunteers who love history and sharing the story of history can be found to continue this tradition.
Last week a cousin gave me a vintage baby mountain cradle and I put it in the Gray log cabin. As I stepped on the granite steps and looked over the settlement, it was sad to see no life. The grass had not been cut, the garden was full
of weeds, and there were no signs posted telling all the participants where to set up. Everywhere I looked I could ‘see and hear’ all of our friends form past years chattering and working to get their areas set up for Pioneer Day.
Chief Norris and the Cherokee, all our re-enactors for the Revolutionary War, War Between the States, Musgrove Mill Militia, and all our re-enactors of Famous persons throughout the property. They were unique and wanted to share their role in History. Our artist and craft people were legendary! Ike Carpenter; Nancy Roberts; quilt ladies; violin maker; Doyle Harper, the Blacksmith; Tony Page and Henry Davis with ” Hit and Miss Machines”; Carrol Traynham with antique toys; Kevin Bagwell, the farrier; Walter Allen, the surveyor; Henry Campbell, the bees and honey man; and Loretta Heyward, the rabbit lady to name a few.
The children loved the potter and making bricks out of mud was fascinating. The children loved the one room school too.
The music was blue grass to shape-note singing and added more spirit to the event. The music drifted through the property all day and really added a mystery of taking you back in time. Michael Walker and the late Harold Clayton provided us with bluegrass music. One of our blue grass children performed on the Grand Old Opera stage last month! The front porch of the Atwood/Robertson log cabin was a perfect stage to get started.
We had several local authors, who sold their books about early South Carolina life to present day.
Our Pioneer Day was always free to children! We wanted children in the living History parade, and we were always so proud of the number of children that participated. In our Parade we had everything from ” Perry the Mountain Man”
with his hog, ‘Christmas Dinner’… to goats, chickens, rabbits, horses, girl scouts, boy scouts, 4-H clubs, wagons, buggies, the Gray Court train, and all the re-enactors. It was a wonderful parade and the start of a wonderful day
The Cowboy Church of Owings gave everyone a sack of apples and a walking stick. We had an archaeologist to help identify Native American Artifacts and to show the petroglyphs. We had a patriotic program to honor our Veterans and rang the bell for Constitution week. The DAR , SAR, UDC, DAC, and Colonial Dames of the XVII Century led in the songs and programs to honor America. Our local leaders signed proclamations to honor the day.
Barbeque and ice cream made it seem like a family picnic. It was mesmerizing to see cousins and meet new friends all in the setting of ‘long ago’!
Richard Fowler brought his teachers from Europe and South America to see early life in South Carolina. Children can read history in a book but when the pages come to life in a log cabin, talking to the Cherokee and visiting with all the re-enactors and seeing the arts and crafts of yesterday, it really is something that everyone will remember.
We could not continue our living history, Pioneer Day, this year because we don’t have volunteers that are physically capable of preparing the property for the festival. Our hearts are broken. Our members are willing to mentor and advise to help keep things on track, but we really do hope for assistance from people in our community who love history to help keep Pioneer Day alive!
We can never express how much we appreciate everyone’s support for the last 15 years of Pioneer Day…Our members have been faithful and magnificent.
The Gray Court Owings Historical Society will continue to give tours of Owings, Culbertson Backcountry Settlement, Gray Court and Churches and give Revolutionary War talks.