Memories of Old Pendleton SC-1920s to 1930s
Nell Seawright Reeves shared her memories of growing up in Pendleton, South Carolina in the 1920s and 1930's. This page was created in 2010. Nell passed away March 22, 2016 at 100 years of age. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
This page is dedicated to the memory of Nell Seawright Reeves.
I had a delightful afternoon visiting with Nell Reeves and her daughter. We sat on the porch and I thought about taking notes but was really too busy listening and enjoying to get much on paper. That is one reason that I am so glad that Nell is a very talented writer. She had her story written down already because she was one of the local residents asked to speak to the Leadership Pendleton Class of 2009.
Nell has agreed to be a part of our Pendleton Memories Series and is allowing me to post her speech here.
Thank you, Nell for sharing your memories.
Photo Credit: Photo of Nell Reeves taken by OhMe and used here with Nell's permission.
Photos on this page are either the personal property of Nell Reeves or someone else and not to be copied. Permission has been granted to use on this page only.
Pendleton SC Links That May Be Of Interest To You
- Town of Pendleton
The Town of Pendleton Website
- Pendleton District Commission
Are you interested in the history of the old Pendleton District - Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties? This is the place for you.
- Pendleton Historic Foundation
Pendleton Historic Foundation maintains the historic Woodburn and Ashtabula Historic Homes.
Nell Seawright Reeves - Pendleton South Carolina
Nell Reeves Shares Her Story
As one of Pendleton's "antiques," I have been asked to tell you about some of my memories of the town. These memories reflect the views of a somewhat sheltered white child long ago, so they give only a partial view of the town and, perhaps, are not entirely accurate.
I was born here in 1915 in a house that stood on a small hill behind Bellamy's Store on Old Greenville Highway. It had been the parsonage for Pendleton Presbyterian Church, and the daughter of the preacher (Rev. McBryde) still lived there. My parents rented an apartment from her. When I was 5, we moved to the house I grew up in on Lebanon Road.
I left Pendleton after graduation from high school in 1931 to go to Winthrop College, and I returned in 1970. I remember watching my father step over the side of his car (the car had no top) to slip under the steering wheel of his Model T Ford to go to work at the depot. His job was to load the boxcars, pushing the heavy gray wagons with huge wheels. The Blue Ridge train passed through town often and made a very loud noise. One time my uncle, who was an undertaker, brought a body to the train to be shipped out of town. He drove a small box-shaped hearse drawn by two beautiful horses. As he drove away from the depot, the train whistle exploded just behind them. The horses bolted straight ahead and down into a deep ravine next to the road, injuring both horses so badly they had to be shot. What a terrible thing for a little girl to see!
Photo credit: Compliments of Nell Reeves
Nell Remembers The Pendleton Town Square
Pendleton SC in the 1920s
The layout of the town around the Square was exactly the same as it is now; only a few extra stores have been added. The Farmers Hall, where 1826 now stands, was always the most prominent building. Then it served as the Post Office with a driveway across the front from Mechanic Street to Exchange Street over what is now the umbrella-covered patio of the restaurant. My father and one of my uncles became rural mail-carriers, so this was the office where they worked. The upstairs is almost the same as I remember it. However, at that time it was used much more for local meetings. The Lion's Club met there once a month for meetings and a meal. The women's organizations from the churches alternated, serving their meals to make money for their church projects. My mother, sister, and I often helped with this. Because the kitchen is downstairs, the food had to be brought up on a dumb-waiter, a box-shaped shelf pulled up by pulleys. I was fascinated by this! My father rented this space for a family reunion one Christmas because our house was not large enough to serve the crowd.
The small building at the other end of the Square, now being used, I believe, to store some materials from the Historical Building while it's being renovated, was the town library. It was small, but very busy.
Across the street, the present Pendleton Historical District Commission Building was called Hunter's Store, and it was probably the busiest place in town. It was a general store, selling almost everything-food, meats, cloth and clothing, hats, etc. Later they built a new, larger store next door to the old one. It is now occupied by what used to be the Mexican restaurant next door. The Hunters were very influential people who lived in a very large white house on the corner of East Main and Broad Street. It burned about 1924 and was replaced by the large brick house there now. This was the largest fire I have ever seen.
The Old Jail
Nell Remembers The Old Jail
Just from the outside!
Behind Hunter's Store was the old jail. It was no longer used when I saw it, but I was quite shocked to think that it had ever been used! It was a cave cut back into a hill on the side of a road. It was covered by a wall and a door. We couldn't see inside, but it certainly did not look like a comfortable place to stay! Back on East Queen Street, across from the oldest house in town where Inez Barrett lives now, was the old Benson house. It was moved to a spot behind Hunter's Store on the Clemson Highway when the bank came to town.Photo: Old jail from Pendleton Old Photos
Evans Drug Store and Esso Filling Station
Two popular locations
I remember only a few of the stores on Exchange Street, but Whitten's Meat Market was about where the Pub is now. Then Mr. Foster's Barber Shop came next. It had been for men only, but by the time I remember, he had opened a little back room where he cut women's hair too. He gave me a permanent using curlers hanging down from a metal frame which was above my head. I wouldn't even touch that thing today!
Then Dr. Horton's office was upstairs over Evans Drug Store (now Mountain Made) on the corner. He delivered most of the babies of my generation, including me. I imagine people were really sick after they climbed those steps! The drug store was a busy place, selling prescriptions and other drugs, bandages, etc. Coca-Cola was the new drink, and people dropped in for a break to sit at the dainty white metal table and chairs.
The only thing I remember from Mechanic Street is the Esso Filling Station run by Mr. Dawson Smith. The Fords were brought in for full service. Someone came out to fill the tank, check the tires, wipe the windshield, check the oil, or even to fix a flat tire.Photo:
Main Street in Pendleton SC
Nell remembers the old Cotton Gin - now Pendleton Oil Mill and The Old Ford Motor Company
I remember very little about Main Street. Mr. James Terrie ran a store, Mr. Martin Crenshaw had a hardware store, and there was a shoe shop where shoes were resoled, heels were rebuilt, and shoes were polished to look like new! Mr. J.V. Bostic ran the Ford Motor Company with both an active sales department and repair shop. Practically everyone used Fords, especially after the A-Model came out. The empty store vaguely displays the name even now. The Bee House across Main Street was occupied by the Sloan family. On down Main Street below where PlezU now stands was the ice house. They sent out trucks to refill our ice boxes; we could also buy ice there. On past the railroad tracks was the Cotton Gin, now called the Oil Mill. The gin was a very busy and important place. In the fall long lines of wagons filled with cotton waited in line to drive under the big suction tubes that took the cotton into the machinery to be seeded and packed into huge bales and dumped back into the wagons. The seeds were then crushed to extract cottonseed oil. This created such a good aroma that everyone who drove by the gin felt very hungry! The farmers then sold the bales to be taken to the factories and woven into cloth. This was the time when King Cotton reigned as the chief crop all over the South until the boll weevils ate so much of the crops that there was no profit left. This helped to cause the terrible depression of 1929.The people in town may have had electricity, running water, and paved roads before those on the edge of town did. We lived just inside the town limits on Lebanon Road. To the best of my memory, our house was wired for electric lights in 1927; we received running water about 1932; and the road was paved near the end of the 30's.photo: Old Ford Motor Company
Nell Reeves Remembers The Pendleton School In The 1920's
I started school in 1923 in a white wooden building up the hill behind what is now Pendleton Town Hall. This school was torn down about 1924. About three or four years later, a larger two-story stucco building was erected farther up the hill. It had a lunchroom in the basement where we sat on wooden benches. Outside on each side of the front steps were pipes with holes along them for water to bubble out as drinking fountains. On the playground we had an open field to play ball and a slide for smaller children. Some high school students from out of town boarded in town during the week until they graduated. The school was the center of the community. The stage in the auditorium was used every day for Chapel services where the Bible was read and hymns were sung. On weekends it had other uses. Two or three times a year the New Era Club, a civic organization organized by young couples in town, would present a play to raise money for local improvements. They used local talent, so several times my sister and I took children's parts in the plays they presented. They also sponsored local oratorical contests held at the school auditorium. After much practice and memory work, many of the high school students would present what I thought were long, elaborate speeches. These were free and were well attended.
Pendleton High School Class of 1931 - Nell Reeves Graduating Class
Note from Nancy: Nell told me that this building was the same as the one I went to in the late 50's and early 60's before the new school was built (now Pendleton Elementary School) I knew it looked different from this picture because it is brick here and she said that it was later stuccoed over. You can see a picture of the stucco building on Pendleton Old Photos
Methodist Church on Fire
Nell talks about the churches and Pendleton Manufacturing Co
During the summers the three main churches in town also used the school auditorium for week-long revivals. There was a good spirit of cooperation among these churches. Often one or another of them might go for awhile without a local preacher. When this occurred, the members of that church attended one or another of the worship services of other denominations, so revivals were something like a family reunion. One of my fondest memories is the chiming of the church bells from all three churches every Sunday morning. It was such a happy sound!
One of the tragedies of the town was the fire which destroyed the white wooden Methodist Church building, but God brought good from it by providing the lovely new church there now. The Baptist Church outgrew their small white wooden building and also have a wonderful new one. The Presbyterian Church, a large Gothic structure, was built around 1895 and its picturesque old interior has been used for many weddings. The Episcopal Church was the oldest church in town, but I knew very little about it.
Out South Depot Street is the old Pendleton Manufacturing Co. built in 1910 for manufacturing cotton cloth. Many people worked here and lived in homes provided by the mill, forming a small village within a village. The children attended Pendleton schools, but most of their church, social, and recreational activities occurred near their homes, so I knew little about them. Mr. Cordes Seabrook, Sr., the mill superintendent, and his family lived in a big two-story wooden house where Maxwell Street joins Elm Street. This house gave Pendleton another huge fire.Pendleton is an old town, but it is growing so fast!
I think the spirit of cooperation shown by the churches has made it a happy town, and I hope this attitude can be maintained. I hope the town will remain a safe and happy place that respects and welcomes everyone.
Nell Seawright Reeves submitted this Old Photo of the Pendleton Cotton Mill in 1920
Nell Reeves Favorite Books on Amazon - I asked Nell what her 5 most favorite books were and this was what she said
Nell is an avid reader. Nell Reeves List of Her 5 Most Favorite Books:
1. The Holy Bible - New Living Translation
2. Halley's Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley
3, Why I Believe by Dr. James Kennedy
4. The Great House of God by Max Lucado
5. Somebody Loves You by Helen Steiner Rice (Nell says that she loves anything written by Helen Steiner Rice)
Thank you, Nell for sharing your story
ON BEING NINETY
by Nell Seawright Reeves
September 25, 2005
Oh, my bones are getting creaky
And my eyes and ears are weak
And the words I want to say
Sometimes aren't the words I speak:
But the sun is shining brightly
And the flowers are in bloom.
And I know the Lord is with me
And that Heaven's coming soon!
Oh, my body's getting weaker
And I'm looking old and gray
And my mind is getting scrambled
And I want to sit all day:
But I know this life is fleeting
And that Heaven's round the bend
And I soon will be with Jesus
For He is my Guide and Friend!
So, I hope that you will listen
To the words I want to say,
"Keep your eyes upon the Savior
For there is no other way
To reach that home in Glory.
I'll be waiting there for you,
And when you come to join me,
All my prayers will then come true!
Nell and I appreciate your visit. - Please feel free to sign our guest book. You do not have to be a member of Squidoo.
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on February 04, 2019:
Thank you for visiting this page
Barbara Hughes on February 02, 2019:
I loved reading this , it had a lot that I have never seen before. Thanks.
Rogerio Seawright on December 13, 2018:
Nell, thank you for letting the story of our family eternalized in your book "The Seawrights Saga" was a great contribution to our family.
I have still kept the letters you sent me to Brazil, great memories
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on March 03, 2018:
Nell was a remarkable lady
Connie Rasbury on March 03, 2018:
Enjoyed her memories of Pendleton... and all the photos.
Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on June 11, 2013:
What a wonderful story of your town!
VarietyWriter2 on July 03, 2010:
Blessed by a SquidAngel :)
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on June 28, 2010:
@Virginia Allain: Thanks for that info. We have turned them over to our Pendleton District Commission's Curator.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on June 28, 2010:
I recommend that you look into publishing these collected Pendleton photos and memories through Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. As a librarian, we loved all the local information that Arcadia was making available.
poutine on March 28, 2010:
Thanks for sharing those memories of Nell.I love reading them and looking at the pictures.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 22, 2010:
This is a delightful project. I hope others follow your lead and collect these memories of their towns.
oztoo lm on January 12, 2010:
Thankyou for this fascinating lens. And thanks especially to Nell for sharing her memories and knowledge.
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on January 12, 2010:
OhMe, your Pendleton Memories series is so interesting, especially hearing what life in Pendleton was like in the 1920s and 1930s. This one featuring Nell Seawright Reeves is charming. What a lovely lady.
Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on January 12, 2010:
This is a delightful lens in every way. What a wonderful idea, to record the memories of those who lived in earlier times. 5-fave-lensrolled to my "mermory" lenses.
Indigo Janson from UK on October 25, 2009:
I think this is really valuable work you are doing here, capturing history in this way.
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on October 21, 2009:
Very interesting. I love to hear the recollections of someone like Nell. Wonderful story and lens... a part of history.
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on October 20, 2009:
What a wonderful story-teller and writer Nell is! How lucky you are--we all are--that she wrote her story and shared it with us. We don't have to be from Pendleton to really enjoy this. Beautifully done, OhMe, and the photos really top it off.
anonymous on October 09, 2009:
I had the privalege of meeting Nell and some of her family, my late husband & I stayed with Nell and attended the family re-union in1992. A lovely lady. I will never forget that visit.
ElizabethJeanAl on August 24, 2009:
What a wonderful lens! Nell sounds like a fascinating lady to know.I wish more of the young would understand the value of looking back. It gives us a clearer picture of the future.Thanks for sharing.Lizzy
anonymous on August 21, 2009:
What a dear lady to share her memories with us. Thanks again , Nancy and will look forward to the next series. Davie
sittonbull on July 08, 2009:
I read this and rated it with 5 stars and a favorite when you first published it Nancy, but haven't found the time to comment until now. Nell Reeves is one of the nicest people you could ever meet and another jewel in Pendleton's treasury of nice people. I really enjoyed seeing her memories of Pendleton and identified with most of them. Although I've known her all my life, I never realized she was such a poetic talent... that's a wonderful poem. I have some old pictures of the cotton wagons lined up the street waiting in line for the Gin at the Oil Mill. Nell doesn't look 94, but I guess that's what living right and those great Seawright genes do for you. Nancy it's wonderful for you to compile these memories and I hope we can persuade more Pendleton people to participate in this neat picture of history.
Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on June 25, 2009:
I love the "ON BEING NINETY" poem. Such a sweet dear lady. Thanks for more history of Pendleton.
anonymous on June 21, 2009:
great job with the lens the photo's are fantastic 5*'s
Patricia on June 20, 2009:
Wonderful lens! I love the poem!
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on June 07, 2009:
[in reply to Mountainside-Crochet] Thank you, Pat and now you are one of the interesting people who live in Pendleton
Mountainside-Crochet on June 07, 2009:
What a sweet, fascinating lady is Nell Seawright Reeves. I found her story delightful. Since I'm very new to Pendleton, it has been very informative and entertaining to read the Pendleton Memories Series and learn so much about Pendleton. I envy all of you who have many of these same memories. What a marvelous town you have, filled with outstanding and interesting people and so many historic homes and businesses.
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on June 04, 2009:
[in reply to Betsy Johnson] Thank you, Betsy. Yes, I hope we have more to come forward with their memories as well and we sure appreciate your archiving them at the Pendleton District Commission so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.
anonymous on June 04, 2009:
These memories are so wonderful to read! I hope that others will step forward to contribute as well!
Nancy Tate Hellams (author) from Pendleton, SC on June 02, 2009:
[in reply to GrowWear] Thank you, Mimi. This has been so enjoyable and a real education for me.
GrowWear on May 31, 2009:
Nancy, such a rich resource you are compiling here. Just spectacular. Very nice to read about Miss Nell.
anonymous on May 31, 2009:
Another great story! This series should inspire other towns to do the same and capture "life as it was then"! It certainly stirred my memory bank!! Thanks for sharing, Nell.
JeffRiveraAuthor on May 30, 2009:
Nice Lens Thanks to the lensmaker
anonymous on May 29, 2009:
I too enjoyed reading about your memories growing up in Pendleton. I remember about the business and churches growing up myself. Your poem was just wonderful. Thank you for sharing your memories.
anonymous on May 29, 2009:
Nell, what a wonderful story about your memories of Pendleton. I, too, lived in the Lebanon community. When you wrote about living on the Lebanon Road, it brought back many memories for me. I attended Lebanon School for grades 1-10. I attended Pendleton High School for grades 11 and 12. My grandfather was Columbus Marion Martin and my grandmother was Eugenia Jolly Martin. My father was John Henry Martin. You might remember some of my Martin relatives. My address while growing up was always Route 1, Pendleton. I, too, have many memories about Pendleton. Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful memories. Your poem was absolutely beautiful!
Eugenia S. Hunt on May 28, 2009:
Nell, I really enjoyed reading this and I LOVE your poem more than I can say! It was good to see the old high school again. I was in grammar school when it was torn down but I remember going to the lunch room, all of the "lunch ladies", and loved our time on stage in the auditorium. When I remember the auditorium, I also remember my grandmother, Gracie Ledbetter, because she was always there to see our school programs. I also remember the old jail, seeing it built into the hill, when I was a child...I did not know what it was until I was much older. Thank you so much for sharing these memories with us!
Joan4 on May 27, 2009:
Oh, Nell! This is wonderful! I do remember some of the same things - of course the old school tho, as Nancy said, it was stucco when we went there. I especially remember those cubby holes under the steps where we waited in line for lunch. Sometimes I still have dreams about that part of the school and Mrs. Anthony's room on that same bottom floor.I very well remember Mama climbing up those steps to see Dr. Horton. I think we lived in Clemson at that time. But my favorite shared memory is that old dumb-waiter in the Farmer's Hall. I was always fascinated by that too. Wonderful story, wonderful lens! Blessed by an angel!