On Friday 12-2-2016 I had the opportunity to go out with a member of the Waccamaw people. My final mapping step for this project was to get the coordinates for Pine Level School. This location is now over grown with woods. It looks as if nothing was ever there. My guide and his elder began to tell me that not even the main road was there when the school was operational. They told me that the road was a wagon path and all the Indian people from that area would walk along this dirt path to the one room school. The Waccamaw people were not welcome at the “white” school nor the “black” school. Once again, the people had to fight to gain the rights to build a school in hopes to educate its people. We then went to an area were two small ridges are separated by a small stream, my guide began to tell me that this was the location of the last Indian wars in this area. He also told me that this is not known to anyone except the people and the story was passed down through generations. Being in this area makes me want to learn more. Also, being there gave me a feeling that this area used to be something very special and important to our history as a nation. Sadly, this was my last step in the project and I have gathered all the information I could during this time. I will leave this blog and site open and encourage all who read this to get involved, to help these people put their past back together and possibly get the national tribal recognition they deserve.
As I was told “walk softly”
Today was a productive day for this project. I went back to the archives on campus and knocked on the door of the director, Ben Burroughs. I asked him if he knew of any locations for the mapping project, to which he didn’t. On the other hand, we had some wonderful conversation about history and the history of the Dimery’s. Mr. Burroughs (the Burroughs have been in Horry County for several hundred years), told me a story that was passed down to him about Jim Dimery and Franklin Burroughs whom served together in the Civil War. They both were captured and sent to Illinois to a Union prison camp. The men there lived in horrible conditions often starving or freezing to death. This story of itself was very intriguing to me but, what he told me next really had me thinking (and I think him too). He told me that Jim Dimery was known as a “Croatan”. Let that sink in for a minute. Maybe some of the original Croatoan people didn’t just “disappear”, maybe they were ran off their land and migrated into other parts of North and South Carolina? This conversation had me thinking all day (I don’t think watching American Horry Story: Roanoke helped any HAHA!) Also, I hope to meet with the tribe next week to map a few places. I will keep you guys updated as soon as I get information.
(Here is the link to the article that has information about Jim Dimery, it’s on page 11)
Today I went to the Horry county archives at my campus. I searched the school’s library website and just put in some key terms like “Dimery, Bethel and Pine level. I found that my school library has “The Horry County Herald” on microfilm (https://www.archives.gov/preservation/formats/microfilming.html). I found two significant post in the research, the first was a story about a court case in the county. I was appalled to see the words “negro’ and “colored” in parts of these stories. Unfortunately, these terms were common in the rural south for the 19th and about three quarters of the 20th centuries. These people were treated as if they were immigrants, when in fact their descendants were the original settlers.
The next story I found concerned the Pine Level School (this is a place I hope to map soon; the site is overgrown by woods now). This school was built for the Waccamaw people to have a place to learn. The people were not allowed in Horry County public schools if they were not of white complexion. I find it appalling that these people went through so many hardships just to live normal lives. The Waccamaw people couldn’t even be proud of themselves without being shamed. Please let me know if you guys have anything that can be of use to this project.
On October,6 2016 I met with members of the Waccamaw tribe just days before hurricane Matthew. This meeting was to serve as a face to face and to show that I was serious about this project. I drove up to the tribal grounds and was immediately greeted by a friendly man who is part of the tribe. I was then invited to sit at the table that seemed to serve as the main hub for business within the tribe. About 15 minutes later the other members of the tribal council entered the room. These men were clearly of Indian descent and very friendly. These men had even had copies for me of their land deeds and genealogy reports to aid in this project. I guess I should inform you guys about the project, huh? This project is a GPS mapping project, meaning I will go to historic sites within the historic land of the Waccamaw tribe and place a marker on it. Later, I will use these coordinates to place a digital marker and information about the site on the map I placed on the home page. Ok, now that you guys know that I will continue to inform you about these first steps taken. After meeting and greeting and explaining the project we headed off to start the process of mapping the sites. The gentleman offered for me to ride with them (which was good because I had no Idea where I was). First, we went to a location named “Cook Cemetery” which is a very important place to the people of the Waccamaw. The actual process of getting GPS coordinates only takes about a few seconds, but the emotions of these men reminiscing about their people was a very powerful event. At our next stop we went to another Cemetery, this cemetery was located in the forest and hidden. After about a tenth of a mile walk we arrived at the unnamed cemetery, there were two head stones (one broken) both Dimery’s (David and his wife Eliza) who also are descendants of the Waccamaw people. These graves according to the men guiding me, lay on the boundary of the historic Dimery Settlement. (http://hchsonline.org/places/dimery.html) and date to the early 19th century. At this site I felt like there was definitely unfinished business there, like there was an uneasy feeling and we did not stay long at this site, maybe 15 minutes. Next we traveled to the Hatcher cemetery which was also in the woods and according to the men adjacent to the Dimery Settlement. Here I saw something fascinating, In the ground at the entrance to the cemetery we saw a Fire Hearth still intact in the ground. The fire pit is believed to be at least 1000 years old. Our next stop was Bethel Cemetery which lay the souls of the Waccamaw people, here the Turners, Hatchers, Cooks and Dimery’s are laid to rest. This location also only took a few second to get the GPS coordinates, but again, the emotion and the stories the men were sharing were extremely powerful. Just on the other side of the cemetery was a gravel lot, the men told me that this was the spot of Bethel Baptist Church once was. The church was a place for the people of the Waccamaw to worship and was built in the late 19th century. Upon leaving the bethel area, we went to a man’s house with the last name Turner who had artifacts several thousand years old. The man showed me two large pieces of fire hearths that were over a thousand years old (there location and picture are on the map). Then the man showed me many different arrow points, grinding stones and even a banner stone (atlatl counter weight) these artifacts were also dated by the chair of archaeology at my University to be at least 1000 years old. Sorry this is more like a novel than a blog, but I feel these things are important to know. My next steps are to go back to the historic land and map where some of the artifacts were found and to locate the “Pine Level School” so stay tuned!