Recently a facebook post reminded me of a memory from my childhood that is often a memory others relish as well. If you never saw the Goat Man, I’m sure you have heard of him. If not, I’m so sorry. Here’s your introduction to Preacher Ches McCartney then.
Jim Scott of Princeton, Jim Darby of Ware Place, myself of Moonville, Charles Garrison and Don Roper both of Piedmont all have memories of the time in the late 50s the Goat Man came to South Greenville, probably heading to North Carolina. To be sure you understand, these gentlemen are all older than I by some months at least, so their memories of him may be clearer. Now Jim Darby recollects seeing the Goat Man several times prior and in Florida. Jim’s family took a summer trip to the Tampa area each year traveling down the Dixie Highway (US 25) which was designated in the 1920 or 30s and began in Michigan and ended in Florida.
Now, my brother-in-law, Pete Peden, ran a filling station in Moonville during the late 50s or early 60s with it being on the road to Florida from up north before the interstates were everywhere. He tells of a vacationer stopping to get gas on the way to the Sunshine State . He remembers them well, because for one thing he pumped their gas and washed their windshield, but they asked him about a good place to eat along the road and Pete shared one of his favorite spots along about Greenwood. Greenwood being about an hour south. Well, about three or so hours later, the same folks stopped in again, coming up from the south. They had eaten a fine meal, come out of the parking lot, and turned north instead of south never noticing any of the scenery that they had already passed. So, that is to verify that the Dixie Highway was a main thorough fare to Florida, once upon a time.
Well, Jim saw the goat traveler several times in Florida, and his sister Linda Hufstetler was able to find a photo of the group, man and goat friends, in one of the family albums that she is sharing with us here. Evidently he liked to vacation in Florida too. So, on at least one of his trips north, he came up US 25 through Princeton where Jim Scott remembers him setting up camp, which he did for at least a couple of nights at each spot, in Princeton near the McCullough House. Now, the McCullough House is famous in its own right as an inn on the old stage road to Hamburg (North Augusta now). Jim Scott thinks that Goat Man had resources we are not aware of, but he never showed any affinity for anything except his team of goats and his praising the Lord. Jim D. remembers him being outgoing and friendly mainly with the adults who came around, and I understand from Don Roper that at night there would be a nice camp fire and the grown folks would join around for stories of travels and places and folks away. And then the Goat Man would preach some.
When the travelers came to Ware Place, they set up camp where the red auction barn is now – where the Belton Hwy. and Hwys. 8 to Pelzer and 418 to Ft. Inn come together – and staying for about 3 nights very near Jim D.’s family home, I’m sure folks were glad to supply feed and other necessities for a few stories. Then Goat Man presented himself to a youngster of about 8, me.
I’d heard of the goat man but never expected to get a chance to see him. Of course, at 8 years old, I couldn’t make things happen, but I was lucky. Living near the intersection of Sandy Springs/Bessie and the Augusta Road, mother and I were heading to Greenville one morning, probably to school where she taught, and as we came to a stop at the highway, there he was. Awesome, I was thrilled! I’ll never forget that one sighting. Of course, that was such a quick look. He and his herd were turning onto Bessie Road toward Piedmont. I treasure that one encounter. I’m sure he never saw me, but seeing him was enough.
Now another friend, Charles Garrison, found him in Piedmont on Hwy. 20 parked at Smith’s Grocery just north of Hwy. 86. Charles vividly remembers the odor wafting in the air. No air conditioning much anywhere back then or baths for goats or their herder. I wish Miffy Smith was still around for me to ask about that encounter, but Don Roper and I talked about the Goat Man once, and he said that he traveled on across the Saluda River to the Anderson side and set up camp. This visit of several nights brought lots of Piedmont’s finest to his campfire for stories and fiery preaching.
I hope you have a good remembrance of this Goat Man, Charles “Ches” McCartney, who left this world at 97 living almost the whole 20th century. He passed to his Master in 1998 in a home in Macon, Georgia. Just seeing him and his goat family was a blessing for me. Something there is about a legend of the road.
Safe travels to you all.
Anne Peden, Phd. Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission
Fork Shoals Historical Society Piedmont Historical Preservation Society ♦