After spending a Night on Bald Mountain (watching the Geminid meteor shower, not listening to Mussorgsky), Keith and I were off to find a couple of ghost towns in Oconee County. We had two locations in mind – Mayucha and Tunnel Hill.
It was still early morning when we left Bald Rock. Our path took us along Highway 11 past Table Rock. There was frost on the fields, and a mist was rising off of Lake Oolenoy.
Mayucha is a complete puzzle. It shows up on several lists of ghost towns of South Carolina. However, this is all Wikipedia has on it…
Mayucha was a town that existed in what is now Oconee County, South Carolina, USA from 1850 to the early 1900s.
That’s it – no coordinates like they give for other towns, and no other description. The most information I’ve been able to find was on several treasure hunting websites. Most of this was was posted in online discussion forums years ago by a guy named Kenny Sams, who lists himself as the curator of the South Carolina Gold Museum, a private endeavor that now seems defunct. According to Sams, Mayucha was settled around 1858 by a group of German settlers who were interested in gold mining. There are several mines in the area. Sams described the town as having “many homes and a post office and many stores. This was by no means a small town.” Sams contends that the location of the town has been kept secret for fear of a new gold rush.
Apart from these comments, there is little other information. One reference from the Keowee Courier from July 24, 1903 mentions the establishment of a post office in Mayucha.
The “Mayucha Falls” mentioned in the paper is now spelled Maiuka, giving a hint that the “ch” is pronounced as a “k”. It does show up on a 1905 map, but no roads are indicated. However, in 1910 it is no longer listed.
Research and inquiries got me no closer to the location. I took the above map and overlaid it onto Google Earth to get an approximate location. As far as I could tell, it was somewhere in the Cheohee Valley, so that was our destination.
First though, we made a quick detour. One of the comments by Sams indicated that the old post office had been moved to the Tamassee-DAR School campus. Keith and I drove onto the campus and were able to locate the old post office. However, it has a hand-painted sign identifying it as the Tamassee Post Office. At this point, I don’t know what to believe.
Back out on Highway 11, we turned on to Dynamite Road, then onto the Cheohee Valley Road. It was a beautiful drive through rolling farmland, but there was no indication of the remains of a town. I figured that any town fitting Sams’ description would have to be in relatively flat bottomland, so I paid attention to those areas. He had also indicated that it was on National Forest land, so we drove at least a couple of miles past the Sumter National Forest boundary line.
Eventually the pavement gave out. We were hesitant to continue on, especially since the terrain suitable for a town was giving out. One other possibility was up a road called Davidian Way. However, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to explore that route.
We retraced our route back down Cheohee Valley Road. I had one more stop before we left this area, though. While doing my research on Mayucha I saw that one of my professors from Furman, Dr. Tom Cloer, had spoken at the dedication of a memorial for his great-great-great-grandfather, Daniel Moody. Moody was buried at Wolf Pit Cemetery, which was fairly close to where we were. I had even contacted Dr. Cloer to see if he had any information in Mayucha, but he had never heard of it. It turns out that the Wolf Pit was even more interesting than our futile search for Mayucha.
Wolf Pit School and Cemetery
To be honest, I had been concentrating all of my research on Mayucha, and hadn’t really looked at Wolf Pit. I was first alerted to its existence by the Cloer article. However, once I knew that there was a historic school involved and that it was right within our target area, I had to check it out.
The earliest reference I have to Wolf Pit is as a landmark. An 1890 edition of the Keowee Courier describes new school district boundaries, and references “Wolf Pit”, in quotations.
…but most of the references in the newspaper are for notices about election precincts. The Wolf Pit Cemetery pops up numerous times on genealogy websites and ancestry registries. However, I can’t find any church associated with the cemetery.
When Keith and I arrived it was still early morning. The school itself was a surprising brick structure, more modern looking than we might have expected. We think the brickwork might have been added later because the overall architecture looks right. It now serves as the Cheohee Community Center, and that sign hangs prominently over the entryway.
The cemetery is behind the school. Most striking are the unusual above-ground crypts, many of which are in very bad shape.
The ground was still frosty, and the shadows of the headstones cast long frost paths across the ground.
I was able to find Tom Cloer’s ancestor, Daniel Moody. Several of the crypts and headstones belonged to members of the Lay family. Jessie Lay was a prominent miner in the area, and his name has popped up in association with Mayucha.
Some of the headstones were hand etched…
Keith pointed out a classic example of a “Confederate Widow” – a young woman who married an elder Confederate veteran with the expectation that he would die soon and leave her his pension.
In this case the husband was 43 years older than his wife. She was born AFTER the Civil War, and lived until 1971 – 98 years, 50 of those as a widow.
Wolf pit turned out to be a fascinating stop. Even though we hadn’t found Mayucha, the day was already starting out with a bang. Now, though, it was time for breakfast, and to go search for Tunnel Hill.
View Mayucha and Wolf Pit in a larger map