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.


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.

Cowpens National Battlefield – Monuments, stories, quotes and artifacts

“Just hold up your heads, boys, three fires and you are free…when you return to your homes, how the old folks will bless you, and the girls will kiss you, for your gallant conduct.”

The Cowpens National Battlefield park near Greenville-Spartanburg area is home to one of the most critical battles of the American Revolution. On this field, on January 17, 1781 General Daniel Morgan led his army to a brilliant victory over Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton’s British forces, which helped turn the tide in our favor.

Admission is free and the park is open daily from dawn to dusk. There is plenty for kids to enjoy. Below are some of the stories, quotes and artifacts I found most interesting (historical data, quotes and illustrations are from the museum exhibits).

General Daniel Morgan, a tough man and a military genius

Life size replica of Gen. Morgan riding his horse at Cowpens

The Old Wagoner, General Daniel Morgan, a military genious and self-made man

Morgan’s military genius was revealed when he deployed the double envelopment, a military strategy unique during Revolution and one of the few in world’s history.

Morgan chose Cowpens for its tactical advantages: a river to the rear to discourage the ranks from breaking, a rising ground on which to post his regulars, an open forest and marsh on one side to thwart flanking maneuvers.

The battle lasted less than an hour and the British losses were staggering: 110 killed, 229 wounded and 600 captured or missing.

Morgan later told a friend that he had given “Bloody” Tarleton and the British a “devil of a whipping”

“…Our success was complete…Our loss was inconsiderable, not having more than twelve killed and sixty wounded… General Morgan to General Greene, January 19, 1781.

Great generals are scarce – there are few Morgans to be found” General Nathaniel Greene 1781.

The British were dumbfounded…the unthinkable happened!

Monument at the entrance to Cowpens National Battlefield museum

“The fire on both sides produced much slaughter…”

Lt. Col Banastre Tarleton

The Edinburgh Advertiser reports on April 3, 1781 the unfathomed defeat of the British at the Battle of Cowpens:

“Of the action between Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton and their General Morgan, on the 17th…they have gone so far as to assert, that the former was totally defeated.”

“The disaster of the 17th of January cannot be imputed to any defect in my conduct, as the detachment was certainly superior to the force against which it was sent…”
Lord Cornwallis

Battle of Cowpens artifacts
Inside the museum you can admire the 1760 British Dragoons officer’s sword with an iron semi-basket kilt, and a bluish blade engraved and gilded with Scottish emblems. Dragoons were the “eyes of the army”, their mission was to prevent surprise attacks. Also on display is a Scottish 71st Fraser’s Highlanders officer’s broad sword.

1700s sabers swords pistols used in American Revolution

Tools of the trade...exquisite Dragoon sabers

The Mighty Moo and The Herd
In theater you can see models of the USS Cowpens CVL-25 and CG-63 ships, both nicknamed “Mighty Moo”. The USS Cowpens, CG-63, is a a state-of-the-art guided missile cruiser commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1991 in Charleston. On March 20, 2003, she fired the first Tomahawk missile into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Model replica of the USS Cowpens CG-63

Mighty Moo cruiser was commissioned in 1991 in Charleston

The museum also displays a replica of the two cannons used by the British at the Battle of Cowpens. The guns were light enough to be carried on horseback. When mounted on long shafts they could be moved by soldiers. The cannons were nicknamed “grasshoppers” because they hoped when fired!

British light artillery used in the American Revolution

Replica of the British grasshopper captured at Cowpens

The capture of the “Grasshoppers”
Near the end of the battle, as the Americans swept forward, two Continental officers sought to capture the enemy’s “grasshopper” canons. Captain Anderson of Maryland won the race when he used his spontoon to vault forward onto one of the grasshoppers. Captain Kirkwood of Delaware captured the other.

Stories of courage in the American Revolution

Capt. Anderson of Maryland jumps to capture the Grasshopper cannon

The clash of swords and ultimate loyalty…
American horsemen led by Lt. Col. William Washington (George Washington’s second cousin) clashed with retreating British officers of the 17th Light Dragoons.

Young servant shoots British officer to save Lt. Washington

Young servant risks his life to save that of his master

Washington quickly outpaced his troops, and then broke his weapon at the hilt when he got into a sword fight with a British officer.

According to legend, Washington’s young servant rode up just in time saving his life by shooting the attacking British officer.

This account inspired artist William Ranney to paint this vivid battle scene in 1845.

The Washington Light Infantry of Charleston, South Carolina erected this monument in 1856 to commemorate this important American victory.

Revolutionary War memorial

Monument erected in 1856 to honor the victory at Cowpens

For more inspiring stories from the Battle of Cowpens visit the park’s official website.

You can read details about the battle, what happened soon thereafter, how the families coped during the war and the important role played by women and African American slaves.

Speaking of women, here is a brief summary of famous South Carolina daughters and their heroic acts of patriotism during Independence War.

Mark your calendar!
January 15 and 16, 2011 is the Anniversary Celebration of the Battle of Cowpens. There will be an encampment, lantern tours, live firing demonstrations, and author lectures. For more details call (864) 461-2828.

Be proud at Cowpens National Battlefield in beautiful South Carolina!

Cool animals to see at the Zoo, Greenville fun cheap things to do!

The Greenville Zoo is not big by any means. It doesn’t boast 21st century facilities like other zoos (see North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro).

Cute baby orangutan showing off her skills

Cute baby orangutan showing off her skills

Yet every time we come to Greenville we end up at the zoo where we have a great time!

It helps that we get in for free with our Riverbanks Zoo membership. General admission is quite cheap $6 adults, $3 children 3-15 and free for kids 3 and under.

This time around Baby Bob stole my heart. Since my visit to the Como Zoo, proud home to another rambunctious youngster orangutan, I got a thing for these great auburn apes. The Orangutan Island show may have something to do with it too…

The Greenville Zoo participates in the Orangutan Species Survival Program aimed at increasing and diversifying the population of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans.

Did you know orangutans only have 2-3 offspring in their 40 – 60 years lifetime?

Things to know before you go

• The zoo is quite small, about one hour should be enough to go through it all. Be prepared for a hearty walk up and down winding pathways.

Giraffe Greetings from Greenville Zoo

Giraffe Greetings from Greenville Zoo

• Most interesting exhibits: orangutans, giraffes, Siamang monkeys, Aldabra tortoises and reptile house to some extent. Lions, elephants, alligator are a little overrated…not much action going on.

• You can purchase drinks, hot dogs, chips, popcorn and candy at the food stand pass the Reptile House. Beware is cash only and there’s no ATM inside the zoo.

• There’s a nice play station area where you can relax in shaded Adirondack chairs gazing at the giraffes while easily keeping an eye on the kids.

• As expected toddlers love the petting zoo farm the most, especially the goats. Make sure to get food from the zoo entrance.

• You may want to start your trip at the huge playgrounds outside the zoo. They’re recently upgraded with top-notch playing equipment.
On a downside there isn’t much shade besides the shelters (always occupied) and the smell emanating from the rubber carpet can be nauseating after a while.

Meet Bubba the Aldabra tortoise.

65 years old 400 lbs Bubba enjoying a snack at Greenville Zoo

60 years old 400 lbs Bubba enjoying a snack at Greenville Zoo

At 65 he is still a teenager, as these giant reptiles can live up to 200 years old.

The Aldabra is bigger than the more famous Galapagos turtles and can reach over 4 feet in length and up to 700 pounds in weight!

Did you know that Aldabra can hunt too?

She collapses on birds feeding on dead fish under her.

Don’t worry Bubba is happy to just munch on grass along with his girlfriends the Bubbletes!

The elusive Axolotl…

A beautiful ghost, the Axolotl salamander

A beautiful ghost, the Axolotl salamander

My favorite resident inside the Reptile House is the little known, weird looking Axolotl.

This translucent salamander lives only in the water and feeds on insects, fish and crustaceans.

Did you know at if one of its limbs is removed, the Axolotl salamander can grow it back?

How’s that for health insurance!

Rock on, Blastoff, Action! A tour of Greenville’s coolest family attraction, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate

The Children’s Museum is finally open! Downtown Greenville is now sizzling with another fun family friendly attraction.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights, Camera, Action!

It’s a modern, cool and truly entertaining action-packed museum. Adults have as much (if not more) fun as the kids.

The museum is open Monday – Saturday 9AM to 5PM and Sunday 1 – 5PM. Admission is $12 (free for kids 1 and under).

TIP! Get in for just $2 on following Tuesdays evenings (from 5 to 7PM): September 17th, October 15th, November 19th and December 17th.

Tickets will be sold in advance on a first-come, first-served basis beginning the Monday prior to each “Two for $2 event”.

Fun things to do

Kids can be pop stars in a live recording studio, land a space shuttle airplane, race a Formula One car, climb a mind-boggling 2 stories high structure, shop in a real supermarket, play doctor, scientist, architect, environmentalist and much, much more…

Here’s an exciting sneak peak of the exhibits:

Exciting Events at Musgrove Mill State Park: Battle of Blackstock by Candlelight, Ghost Tales, Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site’s was the scene of a bloody American Revolution battle. “On Aug. 19, 1780, 200 Patriots rode to strike what they thought was an equal number of Loyalists at Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Musgrove Mill State Park - free admission

Instead, they found themselves badly outnumbered, the Tories having been joined by 300 provincial regulars from the British post at Ninety Six. Retreat was impossible, a frontal assault suicidal. So the Patriot forces took a strong defensive position and lured the Loyalists into a fierce fight that turned into a near rout after the British attack collapsed.” – Musgrove Mill State Historic Site.

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site regularly holds special events, including encampments and living history programs. Here are some exciting events coming up this fall and over the Holidays:

Archaeology Day at Musgrove’s Mill – October 18, 2008, 10 AM – 4:00 PM
Have you ever wondered how archaeologists find and identify artifacts from American Revolutionary War battlefields like Musgrove’s Mill? Visit Musgrove Mill State Historic Site to learn about the methods used and what studies have been done at the site to shed light on this important battle. Project archaeologists will be on-site showing and discussing how they found and identified artifacts. Archaeological tours will be offered throughout the day and kids will be “digging” for artifacts.

Tales of Union County at Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site – October 24 and 25, 2008, 7 PM – 10 PM
Journey into the spooky past with the “Tales of Union County”! Enjoy local ghostly tales and spine-chilling legends in a family setting with marshmallow and wiener roasts, apple bobbing, and other fall festival activities. Sip a cup of hot chocolate, or hot apple cider by the flickering light of the campfire listening to folklore and legends of the Upstate. There may even be a ghost or two…

Battle Of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration at Blackstock Battlefield Historic Site – November 22, 2008, 1 PM – 3 PM

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Revolutionary War rifles replicas

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site will be presenting the Battle of Blackstock’s Anniversary Celebration, featuring an interpretive talk, a Ranger-led tour of the battlefield, a firing salute, and commemorations by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Battle By Candlelight
– December 13, 2008, 6 PM – 8 PM $4 adults, $3 seniors (65 and older), children 15 and under FREE
Experience Musgrove Mill State Historic Site in the dark! The event will feature candle-lit tours of the Musgrove Mill battlefield and historic presentations of the Battle of Musgrove’s Mill from the Patriot and British point of view.

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley

Horse-shoe Robinson illustration by E.O.C. Darley

While at the park learn about Mary Musgrove (the mill’s owner daughter, whose house ruins can still be seen inside the park) and other brave South Carolina women who sacrificed their life to help the Patriots win many battles during Revolutionary War. Mary became legendary with the 1835 publishing of the romantic novel “Horse-shoe Robinson: A Tale of the Tory Ascendancy”.

Christmas at Rose Hill Plantation – December 12-14, 2008, 6 PM – 8:30 PM, $5 per person
Come experience what Christmas was really like in the years before the Civil War. Enjoy the Rose Hill Plantation as it might have been in the antebellum era. The mansion will be decorated for the holiday season during the month of December, and there will be a special Evening Open House the weekend before Christmas: December 21 and 22 from 5 PM until 8 PM, and December 23 from 4 PM until 6 PM

Musgrove Mill State Park is located off I-26 near Clinton, less than half an hour drive from Greenville. Admission to the park is FREE. Operation hours: Park 9 AM – 6 PM daily; Visitor Center 10 AM – 4 PM Monday through Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday and Sunday. More information at (864) 938-0100. Here is the custom Google Map with some incredibly fun and mostly free family attractions in the Upstate.

History buffs take the short drive to Cowpens National Battleground park, site to the most important Revolutonary War battle of the Southern Campaign. Admission is free.

Experience the extraordinary American Revolution battles at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site!