I got a note from fellow explorer Mark Elbrecht the other day mentioning that they were offering tours of Cokesbury College as part of Greenwood’s Festival of Flowers. Mark was able to do the tour on Saturday, but I was off paddling Parr Shoals. My brother Houston was in town, so we stopped by to pick up my sister Glynda and headed down toward Greenwood.
The route from Gray Court to Greenwood cuts across the Laurens County countryside. Southwest of Hickory Tavern we found ourselves at Boyds Mill Pond, an impoundment on the Reed River with a small hydroelectric plant. We stopped to take a few photos.
The river below the dam has several fishing access spots. One point looked like it would be an excellent place to launch a kayak, but it was very trashy. There were several folks fly-fishing downstream.
We didn’t stick around too long. According to the website, the tours for Cokesbury started at 10:00 and we wanted to get there early. We hit Highway 25 and drove straight on down to the Cokesbury community. We were distracted only once when Houston spotted an old dive with an interesting sign. Too bad Dino’s Cafe wouldn’t be open for another of our culinary adventures.
When we got to Cokesbury it was quiet, too quiet. There was nobody there – no tours, no displays, nothing. We drove all around, but there were no cars and no signs of activity. We stopped for a few minutes and took some photos outside and of the flowers nearby.
The only phone number I could find took me straight to voice mail. The offices for the tourism board weren’t open on Sunday. We decided to drive into town to the festival headquarters. When we got there, it was closed up tight, as well. Disappointing.
None of us had been to downtown Greenwood in a long time, so we drove around a bit. The main street has tons of potential – interesting buildings and a wide boulevard. However, nothing seemed to be open. There were no cafes to cater to a Sunday brunch/lunch crowd, and many of the buildings look like the occupants were out of business. It was unrealized potential. There were a few folks wandering around looking at some of the flower displays, but nothing more for them to do.
We drove through a couple more sections of the town, then wound up on the 72/25 bypass where all the shops and food are now located. We stuffed ourselves at a Shoney’s buffett, then decided to head back to Cokesbury for one last try. Perhaps the tours would be open after church.
We got to Cokesbury, and it was still closed up. We had totally struck out. We needed something else to do.
After Mark and I went to Shoals Junction last winter I kicked myself for not visiting Greenville Presbyterian Church. The church is nowhere near Greenville, but it was founded in the 1700’s and its cemetery purportedly had some outstanding examples of funerary art. We decided to check it out.
The church is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is of a rectangular brick construction, similar to the Cedar Springs ARP Church we had visited on our Promised Land ramble. The cemetery itself was fascinating. There were multiple examples of old slab headstones, many of them signed by W. T. White and Walkers.
There were also several less-elaborate, but no less interesting hand-chiseled stones.
Many of these were eroding to the point where they could no longer be read.
More interesting were some of the inscriptions on the headstones. There were several Revolutionary War veterans…
…and one inscription proudly proclaimed the deceased to be a “master”, among many other things, indicating that he was a slaveholder.
I came across a term I’d never seen before. One woman was described as a “relict”. I learned that this was an archaic term synonymous with “widow”. The term “consort” was also used on a couple of stones.
The cemetery was fascinating, but the heat was miserable. As much as we would have loved to have stayed, it was time to get back into an air-conditioned car.
We drove through Shoals Junction and paused to get a couple of photos, including the old Algary School and the general store and post office owned by Cal Robinson.
Houston took a couple of photos of the relocated depot, which I’d photographed on our last trip.
From Shoals Junction we headed toward Ware Shoals. We stopped at the old mill center to take a couple of photos of the Inn and Community Building. Houston was fascinated by the old police building, for some reason.
We drove down to the shoals and the dam. Houston took a few shots, but since I’d been here recently I didn’t get out. At the shoals park there were lots of families out cooling off in the river.
From Ware Shoals we headed north on 178, then cut back across the country toward Gray Court. We were disappointed that we didn’t get to tour Cokesbury College, but we found some very neat things instead. I definitely want go back to Greenville Presbyterian when it gets cooler.