Native Americans exhibit at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

The history museum in downtown Greenville has an interesting exhibit about Native American tribes in the South Carolina Upcountry. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children and students age 4 to 18 and free for children age 3 and under.

The Cherokees
“…The Great Buzzard flew all over the world…when he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired, and his wings began to flap…wherever they struck the earth there was a valley, and when they turned up again there was a mountain.” Cherokee myth

“The males of the Cherokee…are tall, erect, and moderately robust, their limbs well shaped so as generally to form a perefect human figure…”
William Bartram, naturalist, 1791

18th century encounter with the Cherokee tribe

Early description of Cherokee men

Drawing of early Cherokee settlements in the Carolinas.

Cherokee settlements around 1250 AD

Cherokee village near Pisgah North Carolina 1250 A.D.

Over time the Cherokee settlements turned into towns that were more spread out and more advanced than earlier villages, as illustrated in the Tennessee’s Chota town layout below.

Cherokee town settlement

A look at a more developed prehistoric Cherokee town

Trade and war
In 1730, seven Cherokee warriors went to London to sign a treaty with the British government. They signed a trade agreement that will eventully build colonial fortunes for Great Britain. European traders obtained deerskins and sometimes slaves from the Cherokees. In the early 1700s, South Carolina exported 54,000 deerskins annually.

Cherokee come to England the early 18th century for a trade contract

Cherokee leaders travel to London in 1730 to establish a trade agreement


Native Americans became dependent on European manufactured goods, such as fabric, farming tools, hardware and weapons. They soon exhausted the deer population.

Mounting debt forced them to sell land in order to satisfy their creditors.

Treaties between the Cherokees and the Charlestown-based government limited European settlement in the Upcountry. South Carolina Governor James Glen secured treaties with Native Americans in 1743 that promoted trade and designated land for European settlement. However, as Piedmont region offered rich soil and clean water for farming, settlers ignored these treaties and moved into Native American land.

Native American artifacts from the Upcountry

Cherokee hunting and harvesting tools


In response, the Cherokees attacked the settlements in 1759. The following winter,
at Fort Prince George, the colonial militia killed hostages when Cherokee warriors stormed the fort.

After intese fighting a new treaty was signed creating a new boundary between Cherokee lands and European settlements.

During the American Revolution the Cherokees sighted with the British, hoping they would stop the advancement of the settlements. Patriot militia burned Cherokee towns and crops. On May 20, 1777 at DeWitt’s Corner, Outacite and other Cherokee leaders gave up their lands to the new American government.

The Catawbas
The Catawbas settled east along the Catawba and Wateree Rivers. They often fought with the Cherokees over precious Upcountry land. When the Europeans arrived the tribes agreed to a truce in order to participate in trading. Over time Catawba pottery became highly desired by European settlers who used it for cooking.

Catawba tribe artifact

Catawba peace pipe artifact

Once a distinct nation, by the 1730s, the Catawbas became an amalgam of different trives joined together from wars, settler incursion and disease. By 1760, war and smallpox ravaged the Catawbas to just about 500 people.

The Catawba in the Upcountry

Early drawing of a Catawba man

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Military war camps at the Upcountry history museum in Greenville

For over 200 years the Upcountry sent her sons and daughters to serve in the military and has provided a home for several training camps.

Uniform and personal items worn during WWI

Army uniform in WWI


The tradition started before the American Revolution, when militia troops trained at Fort Prince George.

Throughout the years residents understood the benefits of having troops nearby. Local businessmen sold land for camps, built houses, outfitted and entertained the soldiers.

Come camp payday, money “bounced from one merchant’s cash register to another.”

You can learn more about it at the Upcountry History Museum in downtwon Greenville. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 4-18 and free for children age 3 and under.

Disclaimer: historic data and pictures in this post are from the museum exhibits.

During the Spanish American War of 1898, horses were still the main mode of transportation. Sick soldiers recovered at Camp Wetherill in a hospital tent that had a wooden floor. Other places had tents with dirt floors that sometimes turned into mud when it rained.

Military training camps in the 19th century

Horses were the main way of transportation during the Spanish American War

Bootcamp humor – The unusual cold winter of 1898-1899 surprised soldiers from northern states who expected to lie around in the shade of palms trees and gorge on oranges and bananas.

Soldiers jokes on military training in the Upcountry

Guard duties humor

During World War I soldiers were required to shave to allow gas masks to fit properly. In 1901 Gillette developed the safety razor, a welcome improvement over the dangerous straight edge razor. The army bought millions of the new razor and blades for soldiers.

Army soldiers personal items

The first safe razor used by military personnel during World War I

The mess kit or “meat can” contained eating utensils and a frying pan that could be used as a plate. After the meal the utensils went back into the pan, the cover slipped on, and the handle slid across to secure it.

The mess kit used in the army

The multi-purpose meat can, frying pan and dinner plate for the WWI army soldiers

American soldiers used a Coupon Book containing one, two and five francs, to pay the French luxury tax on items purchased there. The Army Air Force published an Emergency Book with jungle and desert survival techniques to airmen deployed to the Pacific and Africa battle fronts.

WWII personal items carried by soldiers

World War I French coupons, Emergency manual and medals

During World War I, medical personnel at Camp Wadsworth took part in stretcher drills to learn how to care for casualties. Did you know? Camp Wadsworth sent out a call for dried peach pits which provided the carbon for gas masks filters.

Medical personnel doing stretch drills in the Upcountry

Medical drills at Camp Wadsworth during World war I

During World War II at Camp Croft, troops conducted war maneuvers and prepared for battle in the European and Pacific fronts in. Camp Croft also housed German POWs who picked peaches, fixed jeeps and cooked their own food.

Military exercises at Camp Croft in 1940s

Bombardment drills at Camp Croft during WWII

Women were able to serve their country as WACS (Women’s Army Corps), at Greenville Army Air Base during World War II.

Training camps for service women during World War II

Army women training in Greenville during WWII

More interesting things to see at the museum and surrounding areas:
• “Mud, Sweat & Cheers Football in the Palmetto State, 1889-Present”, a fun filled exhibit dedicated to over 120 years of football in South Carolina. Check out the heated Gamecocks – Tigers rivalry, the early days rules and legends and interesting collectible items.
Be a textile worker in the early 1900s (Greenville used to be the “Textile Capital of the World”)
• Be inspired by the impressive collection of paintings by Southern artists at the Museum of Art. Right now you will be delighted to see exquisite watercolor work by Mary Whyte and Andrew Wyeth. Admission is free.
• Enjoy the historic 1838 Kilgore-Lewis home and garden, one of the oldest and best preserved houses in the area. Admission is free.

Early days of football: “Mud, sweat and cheers” at the Upcountry History Museum

“A field of carnage” Anderson Independent Farmer 1915, about the Clemson – Auburn game

To this day football remains one of the toughest and most unforgiving team sports games in America. And yet it is a far cry from its literally “bloody” beginnings. The Upcountry History Museum in downtown Greenville showcases the fascinating world of South Carolina football, from the 1880s through today. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors and college students, $3 children 4-18 and free those under 4.

The father of American football
“From ocean to ocean he is known as the father of American football, as the lover and upholder of all manly sports, as the prophet of physical well-being in the happily efficient life.” Dean Lebaron Russell Briggs

Walter Chauncey camp was born in New Haven, Connecticut.

The man who transformed American football

Walter Camp The Father of American Football

From 1876 to 1881, Camp played football for Yale (being a captain for 3 years). From 1882 to 1910 he served as an advisor to the Yale and Stanford football coaches.

Throughout his life Camp played a major role in the establishment of American football. He led the American Football Rules Committee and helped establish the NCAA. He invented the quarterback position, the scrimmage, and the forward pass. He reduced the number of players on the field from 15 to 11. He was responsible for the selection of the first All-American team.

Originally Camp aspired to become a doctor. However he left the Yale Medical School after two years and instead he began his career at New Haven Clock Company as a clerk. When he died, Camp was the company’s chairman and president. A monument honors his memory in front of the Yale Bowl, the home of the Yale football team.

The wild, wild west: rules, recruiting and wacky formations
“It was a common practice for partisan of certain larger institutions to make almost regular annual campaigns for drawing players away from smaller colleges.” American College Athletics 1929

Although football rules were codified by 1890s problems persisted with how to call off sides, what constituted a pass, what was a legal block and fair play on the field. At the line of scrimmage it was common for players to use their fists on their opponents. Compounding the problems, for a long time there was only one referee on the field.

The flying wedge
“What a grand play!…half a ton of bone and muscle coming into collision with a man weighing 160 or 170 pounds.” – New York Times, November 30, 1892 describing the first use of the flying edge at a Harvard – Yale game.

Football carnage early 20th century

The flying wedge came crushing down


The flying edge was introduced in 1892 at a Harvard – Yale game. It consisted of two wings, the biggest linemen going in motion before four lighter players. Both wings would head at an angle toward the team captain, who would hand the ball to the halfback.

Once the two angles converged the ball carrier would follow the wedge down the field. Smaller defensive fronts could be overwhelmed with such a formation and often suffered severe injuries.

Within two years of its introduction in 1892 the “Wedge” was declared illegal. A modified version, in which a mass of players could pull, push and even punch its way through a defense with the ball carrier remained legal. This formation continued through most of 1910s.

The forward pass
“Until 1910 the plan was to put the man catching the forward pass out of commission before he got his hands on the ball. This football season may ‘make or break’ the forward pass” – The State Oct. 1, 1910.

Until 1906 the only way to advance the ball was by a lateral, running with it or kicking it. In an effort to reduce injury the pass was introduced. There were restrictions: the receiver could be blocked before the ball ever reached him (some protection was given to the receiver in 1910), you can only throw the ball a maximum of 20 yards and you had to be at least 5 years behind the line of scrimmage. Because of penalties and the large ball size many coaches used the forward pass infrequently. In 1912 the ball size was reduced and by 1940s most pass restrictions were dropped.

Safety gear 100 years evolution
Football players wore very little protection in the early games. In 1894, a doctor predicted “instant insanity” to a player if he was struck on the head again. A shoemaker in Annapolis, Maryland made the first leather helmet. It was not made mandatory for college football until 1939. Leather helmets guarded against injury to some extent however they were highly unreliable.

Helmet and pads design changes over 100 years

Tough business to be a football player in the 1900s

In the 1950s colored plastic helmets became popular and greatly reduced head injuries. In the 1970s improvements included inside air pockets and a four point chin strap.

In 2002 Riddell Sports “Revolution” helmet became the first major innovation to protective head-gear in 25 years.
With a spherical shape designed specifically to reduced concussions, head injuries were reduced by 30%. Although injuries still occur today football players are much safer than they were 100 years ago.

Pads – During the late 1890s some players put cushioning

Mud sweat and cheers exhibit Upcountry History Museum

What a silly looking man

under their sweaters, but their teammates often made fun of them. Leather shoulder and hip pads became common in the 1910s and 1920s as players and coaches became more aware of injuries.

By 1950s padding became more sophisticated yet also added some risks. The plastic will get dangerously hot and players suffered a high numbers of heat related injuries and even death. Over the years improvements were made and in the 1990s air-conditioned shoulder pads were introduced.

Today pads are specialized for different positions. Quarterback pads have fewer flaps to enable more arm movement and their larger size give ribs added protection from tackles. Running backs and receiver have smaller, lighter and more flexible pads to allow freedom of body movement.

Football comes to the Palmetto State
“On Saturday morning, December 14, 1889, the foot ball teams of Furman University and Wofford College played a very interesting and exciting game at the Encampment Grounds, Spartanburg, S.C.” Wofford College Journal, February 1890.

Although football was played back in the 1860s in the Northeast it took almost 30 years for it to arrive in South Carolina.

Football begins and the rest is history...

Furman - Wofford was the first football game played in South Carolina in 1889

The first documented game took place in 1889 between Furman and Wofford with little publicity.

Yet by 1910 college football had become a major fall event on most South Carolina campuses. The Citadel (1905) and Erskine (1915) were the two of the last ones in the state to introduce varsity football. As each school tried to get better and win games, student and alumni became increasingly passionate about recruiting. During the first decades of the game the player captain ran the team with a faculty member as an advisor. The full-time football coach was many years away.

The Purple Hurricane, Furman glory in mid 1920s
After playing in the state’s first ever football game, Furman struggled to maintain a winning season. The program was actually suspended from 1903 through 1912, when strong appeals from students brought re-instated it.

The “Purple Hurricane” came back roaring! In the 1920s Furman dominated the state competitions, winning the South Carolina Championship Cup, seven times through 1932.

Greatest Furman team ever

The Purple Hurricane played in and won the first Orange Bowl


In 1926, one of the biggest victories of the era came over heavily favored Georgia. Winning 14-6, Furman made a Georgia journalist to make good on his promise if his favorites lost. He walked 101 miles from Athens to Greenville where Furman students and town’s people greeted him as a “great sport”.

A year later, Furman had one of its best seasons ever, defeating Clemson, South Carolina, North Carolina and Duke. The team received an invitation to play at Coral gables in Florida in what will later became the “Orange Bowl”. Furman beat Miami 38-7.

Bill Laval, became the only coach in the state history to lead three different colleges Furman, South Carolina and Newberry.

Nightime football frenzy begins in the Palmetto State

1929 ball from the first night game in South Carolina between Furman and Erskine

For most South Carolinians football revolves around its biggest and most accomplished schools South Carolina and Clemson. Read about the 100 plus years history of the state’s most heated football rivalry.

Note: Historic data, pictures and quotes used in this post are from the “Mud, Sweat & Cheers” exhibit.

Greenville Museum of Art, fun, free and inspirational things to do with kids

The Greenville Museum of Art indulges visitors with hundreds of paintings by American and Southern artists from the 18th century to present. The current attractions are two superb water color collections by Andrew Wyeth (through October 16) and Mary Whyte: Working South (through September 18). Admission is free. The art museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 11AM – 5PM and Sunday 1-5PM.

Art museum featuring Mary Whyte and Andrew Wyeth collections

Excited to see Mary Whytes watercolor collection

Upcoming Events

• September 4 – Music in the Galleries – Enjoy the gentle sounds of guitar music.
• September 18 – Highlights and Insights, an annual tour that touches on current exhibitions, art studios, and a discussion of the Museum’s history
• September 24 – Painter Anthony Conway discusses Jasper Johns
• October 9 – Art in Motion for Families with Percussionist Jeff Holland
• October 16 – The 26th Annual Antique Show
• October 23 – Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books

My daughter really enjoyed the Art Detective challenge, where she had to identify 6 paintings inside Mary Whyte’s Working South exhibit.

Clues to find best of Mary Whyte art prints

Art Detectives have fun exploring the Working South exhibit

More fun kids things to do near Heritage Park

Be a textile worker at the Upcountry History Museum
• Kick into super fun gear at The Children Museum
• Let your imagination flourish at the Main Public Library
• Take the free guided tour of the historic Kilgore-Lewis House and Garden

Monkeying around the Greenville Zoo, the kids wild fun things to do

The baby is so cute! The most interesting exhibit at the Greenville Zoo featured the Angola Colobus Monkeys.

Adanna was born in January 2011, a third successful pregnancy for mother Lami and father Valentino. At birth, a baby Colobus monkey is completely white. It will start changing color after one month.

Greenville Zoo newest monkey addition

What is that?

Colobus monkeys are the most arboreal of all African monkeys, spending their entire life in trees. Although their hands are thumbless they are extremely good climbers, known to jump from branch to branch, sometimes leaping up to 50 feet in the air!

Mother Colobus Monkey with her two youngsters

Time out guys!

Avid eaters, the Colobus monkey will consume fruits, seeds and seeds throughout the day. Their super sized stomach can hold up to a third of their body weight!

Baby Adanna sharing a private moment with her mom

Snack time!

The Greenville Zoo is open daily 10AM to 5PM. Admission is $7.75 adults, $4.50 children 3-15 and free for children under 3 (Riverbanks Zoo members get in for half price).

Got mill skills? Be a doffer at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville

Can you doff it? It’s not as easy as it looks. How about doing it over, and over, and over?

In late 19th century and early 20th century children worked, sometimes up to 14 hours a day, in hot, lint-filled, and extremely loud textile mills for a meager pay. If that wasn’t enough, in the 1920s, mill owners started deploying “the stretch-out” – machinery was sped up to increase workers production (and the owners profits) during an already grueling work week.

Finally, in 1933, The Cotton Textile Code of the National Recovery Act, set a 40-hour work week, a $12 minimum weekly wage, and put an end to child labor.

Learn all about “The Textile Capital of the World” at the Upcountry History Museum in downtown Greenville. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 4-18 and free for those 3 and under.

It’s gold! Western North Carolina gold mining photos, legendary finds and old stories

America’s first gold rush started in Western North Carolina by a lucky accident. Find out at the Colburn Earth Science Museum in downtown Asheville, that features an impressive collection of gems, minerals, precious metals, fossils and photographs documenting the rich mining history of North Carolina.

It’s gold mine for history buffs, hobbyists and tourists. The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10AM – 5PM, Sunday 1 – 5PM. Admission is $6 adults, $5 seniors, students, and children over 4.

The beginnings… (historical data and photos are from the museum exhibit)

Gold rush starts in Western North Carolina in the late 1700s

The find of the century! A 12 years old boy discovers a huge gold nugget and the rest is history...

John Reed, a Hessian soldier in the British Army, settled in Western North Carolina at the end of the Revolutionary War with other German immigrants.

In 1799, Conrad, his 12 years old son, spotted a shimmering yellow rock while fishing on the family farm and brought it home. His parents, not familiar with gold, used the rock as a doorstop.

In 1802, John Reed sold it to a jeweler in Fayeteville, NC for $3.50. He later found out the rock was a large gold nugget, returned to the jeweler and collected an additional $3,000.

And so the country’ first gold fever began!

The Reed farm quickly became the Reed Gold Mine. The creek where the rock was found was rich in gold for nearly a mile, and the area will later yield over 150 pounds of gold nuggets.

By 1803, there were over 600 mines and prospects in Western North Carolina. Most gold was found by panning in streams and using simple rockers. At this time North Carolina was a slave state; historical records suggest that at the height of the gold rush fever as many as 3,000 slaves could be seen working the gravel deposits along a single stream…

First gold rush in America begins

Thousands of slaves mined for gold in the early 1800s in North Carolina

By 1825, most of the gold nuggets and flakes found in streams had been mined.

Riding the kibble underground gold mining in mid 19th century

Cornish-designed bucket used to hoist miners and gold to the surface


A Stanley County farmer, Mathias Barringer, found an outcrop of quartz with a gold vein while following a trail of nuggets upstream.

He realized the small nuggets found in rivers were eroded from the exposed gold vein.

Baringer decided to extract gold from the rock rather than the stream, and so the first subsurface gold mine in North Carolina was born.

Prospectors began looking for “color”, the whie quartz vein that indicated the loction of gold. Most were not skilled in subsurface mining; serius accidents and deaths were fairly common.

European immigrants bring in mining know-how
Immigrants from Cornwall, England and Germany brought mining expertise and technology.

Old photo of gold miners working under a vein in Gold Hill NC

Subsurface gold mining involved tough working conditions


Examples include stamp mills, blasting and drilling techniques, mine shafts, drifts, beam reinforced ceilings and walls, and the Cornish-designed buckets (kibbles) that hoisted miners and gold to the surface.

Underground work at the Reed Mine began in 1831.

In 1842, miners found a 20 foot wide gold vein at Gold Hill in Rowan county. Mining veterans flocked to the area sensing good fortunes. By 1848, the town boasted 15 active mines, 5 stores, 4 doctors, and 27 saloons.

The majority of gold mining towns in North Carolina (unlike th western mining towns popularized in movies), were fairly peaceful due to the strong religious background of the Cornish miners.

Minting Gold
In the early 1800s, North Carolina was the nation’s sole native source of gold. The only U.S. Mint at the time was in Philadelphia. Because of long distance and poor transportation conditions miners looked for an easier and safe way to convert their raw gold into money.

Gold artifacts on display at the Colburn Museum

Gold nuggets and white quartz sample


In 1831, Christopher Bechtler, a German immigrant entrepreneur, proposed to coin the miners gold for a 2.5% fee. The miners agreed and a min opened near Rutherfordton, NC.

From 1831 to 1840 he minted $2.2 million in gold coins and melted 85,000 ounces into bars ($3 billion in today’s value!)

The Bechtler coins were so well accepted for commerce that during the Civil War the monetary obligations of the Confederacy were specified as payable in “Bechtler gold” rather than Union, Confederate or state currency.

In 1835, the U.S. Congress authorized creation of the Charlotte Mint. Soon, Charlotte became a regional banking center, a position it still holds today.