The end of the year is a great time for reflection on the past. History provides important lessons for the future, and those who do not know their history are destined to repeat mistakes rather than learn from the mistakes of others.
My first-born granddaughter gave me a DVD for Christmas titled The Dark Corner. I watched it with her on Christmas Eve. It features a narration by three historians and authors with ancestral roots deep in Dark Corner heritage. I have been privileged to know them for a quarter century.
I was blessed to be born in that section of northeastern Greenville County and share that heritage, some of which we can be rightfully proud and some not so proud. The experts disagree on whether the first settlers were English or Scott/Irish, but one thing is indisputable, they were independent, stubborn, generous, creative, industrious, and were willing to fight to protect their privacy, families, homes, property, honor and way of life.
Until I left for college and military service, I lived and worked with these mountain people. Most of them were from families that moved into the area when the Indians were driven out and marched to Oklahoma by the Federal Government. Many of their ancestors had been veterans of the Revolution and given land grants of large acreage in the mountains and foothills. Many of these folks had little or no formal education but possessed great wisdom and a lot of knowledge passed down through the generations,
They were all “yellow dog” Democrats and hated Republicans, although few had seen one. They had heard their parents talk about the abuses and terror inflicted by Republicans, Carpetbaggers and Scalawags during military occupation and “Reconstruction” of the state. And they were told that President Hoover, a Republican, was the cause of all their problems during the “Great Depression.”
When I stepped out the door to walk the one-mile to Highland Elementary School in the mornings, I saw Glassy Mountain and Hogback spread across the northern horizon. The original school burned when I was in third grade. We had classes in local houses until a new school could be built. It was torn down when the politicians consolidated the schools in the 1950’s. There is no marker showing it ever existed. The only reminder is the kitchen, built by the chain gang in Tigerville and dragged to the school on skids. Highland Baptist Church uses the old kitchen for storage.
Since those days I have lived in 6 states and 3 foreign countries. No place was really home until I could see those majestic mountains again on the horizon.
In recent years others have discovered the magnificence of the Dark Corner and fled the local towns and distant states with their political correctness to become neighbors of the friendly freedom loving people of Northern Greenville County.
The Jordan High School class of 1950 consisted of 8 boys and 8 girls. We had a code of honor that was part of our heritage, I suppose. We would take punishment for someone else’s problem rather than “tell on them.” After consolidation, the school district left no marker showing that the school ever existed. Without the school, the Jordan community is no more. It is now part of 1960 vintage Blue Ridge, and rapidly becoming part of Greer.
The 8 boys in the class of 1950 were close as brothers. All served their country in uniform. All eventually returned to the community where we were born and half of us are still living. The four meet for lunch at Lakeview Steak House the third Monday of each month. On occasion one or two of the 6-surviving girls will join us. We respectfully remember and miss our classmates, and we have fond memories.
The last of the Jordan High schoolteachers passed away earlier this year. Mrs. Lillian Jenkins taught Home Economics and lived over 100 years. She taught many Dark Corner girls how to sew and cook. Family Planning and Sex Education have replaced sewing and cooking. High school students may not learn how to cook and sew, but they know how to reproduce and find government assistance. Earlier residents of the Dark Corner would not have approved.