Friday, March 11, 2016

Old Purity Cemetery, Chester South Carolina

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It’s amazing what an observant traveler can find in South Carolina just by avoiding multi-lane, high-speed, interstate highways. Here’s an example. “Old Purity” Cemetery just outside the town of Chester, South Carolina.

160121 Old Purity Cemetery Chester SC-3-Edit “Old Purity.” Unusual name, even for a cemetery. I clicked around a bit on the Internet and discovered the name makes perfect sense. Purity Presbyterian Church now is located over on Wylie Street in Chester. That’s “New” Purity. Services began there in 1854, after moving from its earlier location at the junction of Routes 97 and 44, now the site of the “Old Purity” cemetery.

160121 Old Purity Cemetery Chester SC-5-EditBull Run Presbyterian Church was the name chosen by the original congregation around 1770, later changed to Purity Presbyterian Church. So there’s the explanation!

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Graves at Old Purity date from 1787. That’s a long time for American cemeteries. Not the oldest, by any means, but getting right up there.

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Cemeteries give us the opportunity to study micro-history. With a focus on families and how macro events have affected their lives. They’re interesting places. The stone above commemorates those who fought in the Revolutionary War. Click for a larger view. The names should be legible.

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They also provide clues to a region’s earlier culture, and even economy.

Many older cemeteries are disappointing. Toppled grave markers; overgrown with weeds; littered with trash. Not so Old Purity. This historic cemetery is still used today. The property is maintained by the Old Purity Cemetery Society. Click the link to access their excellent website. Lots of additional information, including history and upcoming events.

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So there you have it. Chester South Carolina’s Old Purity Cemetery. Be sure to add this impressive and informative site to your itinerary when you visit this part of the country.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

A Few Photos from Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina

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When your travels bring you to or near Columbia, South Carolina, be sure your itinerary includes a visit to the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Not just the Zoo, but also the Gardens.
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There’s something to see any time of the year. I took this photo of berries in the Garden on February 1st. Not as many brightly colored flowers during winter. But this is South Carolina! So there’s always something to attract your attention.
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More on the Garden in another post. But look at the photo above. That’s the work of Anna Hyatt Huntington. One of two on display here. They’re smaller than most of the pieces you’ve probably seen at Brookgreen Gardens, down on the Coast. But nonetheless interesting, and they fit perfectly into the Garden design.
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The Garden is across the river from the Zoo. But access is simplified by this train. It makes a round-trip every ten or fifteen minutes. From the Zoo side just walk across the bridge and board the train. It’s free! And like the Zoo and Gardens designed for visitors of all ages.
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Speaking of visitors of all ages, an interactive children’s garden is slated to open in April of this year. Those are some of the kid-friendly tree houses still under construction. Click here for more details. This is a Big project, some time in the planning and construction. Riverbanks doesn’t do things by halves.
Back to the zoo. Click on the photos below to open SmugMug photo galleries. Then click the “slideshow” option above the photos for larger views. Remarkable creatures, well cared for.
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Monday, January 11, 2016

A Recent Visit to the North Carolina Mountains

Several readers have written to ask why the CarolinaConsidered blog has so few posts on North Carolina. North Carolina deserves better, they argue. Well, the primary cause of this geographic imbalance is the overwhelming number of interesting places to visit in South Carolina. That makes it hard to find the time to travel North.

Last October we had an opportunity to balance the scales with a five-day visit to Peaceful Quest Retreats in Gerton, North Carolina. That’s a small town in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, seventeen miles or so southeast of Asheville. It’s a beautiful spot. I couldn’t find a website for Gerton, but here’s a link to Henderson County’s site. It’s full of useful information about the surrounding area. Have a look. 

Here are some photos I took at Peaceful Quest. Just click this link. It’s a great place to stay when visiting the North Carolina mountains. And surprisingly inexpensive.

Driving up from Columbia, the scenery becomes – well, spectacular – after turning left onto Route Alt-74 West. North Carolina certainly has some beautiful mountains in the Western part of the State.

A word of caution. Don’t try to make up time on Alt-74 West. That 35 MPH speed limit may be frustrating after zipping along Interstates 77 and 26. But the local authorities know what they’re talking about. Sharp curves and switch-backs are more the rule than unusual.

A local resident said, “There’s only one traffic rule here. NEVER cross the double-yellow line.” Well, duh! Seems obvious. But it’s hard to do if you’re traveling much over 35 MPH. And on some of the more dramatic curves, even slower.

Not long before arriving at Peaceful Quest on Alt-74 keep an eye out for the Bear Wallow Baptist Church. It’s on the right. The name alone assures visitor interest. But this is a real church, beautifully maintained with pleasant surrounding grounds. Click here for a few photos of the church and grounds. 

Oh, and since Peaceful Quest doesn’t have a dining room, be sure to drive down the mountain – across the Continental Divide! – for a visit to The “Hot Dog King” in Fairview. What a place! Only a few tables inside, but they do a booming business. Much of it local folks who know where to go for good food. Click here for a few photos taken inside the restaurant.

So there you have it. A great North Carolina adventure. No “regionist” bias here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Catholic Presbyterian Church in Chester County, South Carolina

Church front and tree

Next time you’re driving on Interstate I-77 between Columbia and Charlotte, take an hour or so (at least) to turn off onto South Carolina Highway 97 toward Chester. In just a few miles you’ll see the sign below on the right-hand side of the road.

Road Sign on 97

I’d noticed it at least a dozen times on trips to Chester State Park before looking up a reference. “Catholic Presbyterian Church”? What in the world? One would hardly expect to find such rampant ecumenicism in Chester, South Carolina. I mean! But there it was. In brown and white, so to speak. “Catholic Presbyterian Church.”

A few months back curiosity won out and I made the indicated turn to have a look. Just a mile or so down the road, I found a no-nonsense brick church building, sign, and a couple of enormous trees shading a good portion of an unpaved parking area.

Church and sign

I took a few photos. The sanctuary was locked with nobody around. But this is an active congregation. A quick Google search of “Catholic Presbyterian Church” confirms that and explains the origin of the unusual name. Formed in May of 1759, the original congregation included members from various Protestant sects and denominations, primarily Presbyterian. Hence the “Catholic” designation.

CatholicPres Graves

In addition to the 1842 brick sanctuary building, the third erected by this remarkable Congregation, the site includes a well maintained cemetery. Expanded and still active. 

graves and wall

Rev War Soldires of CP Church

Beyond its unusual name, Catholic Presbyterian may be best known for the large number of soldiers it provided during the Revolutionary War. Pictured above is the honor role listing their names and date of death. If you click the photo for a larger view you’ll be able to read each name and date. Some survived the War; many didn’t.

Tomb of Infant

This is an active cemetery and not a tourist attraction. With that in mind, walk carefully through the rows of graves. Many of the inscriptions remain legible. A history lesson in stone.

wall and graves 2

A remarkable place, easy to find and to access, well worth a visit.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sakura Restaurant Flood Recovery Efforts in Columbia, South Carolina

01 At His Post

Just two years ago Mr. Norio Saito agreed to do a short interview for CarolinaConsidered about his remarkable sushi restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina. If you missed it, here’s a link:

A glance through the interview videos with Mr. Saito will show he’s hardly a publicity-seeker. Indeed, I had quite a time getting him to agree to appear on camera. Mr. Saito pours all of his energy and effort into preparing the very best traditional sushi dishes he can. Our extended family and friends have enjoyed the result for nearly 30 years.

You’ve probably heard about the flood that raged through downtown Columbia, South Carolina, last week. Well, the shopping center in which Sakura is located was smack dab in the middle of the very worst flooding. Fast-moving water clear to the eaves! This Facebook page has photos of the damage:

The good news is that Mr. Saito hopes to rebuild. A recent Sakura employee, Mr. Jamie Altman, has established a “GoFundMe” site to support the rebuilding effort:

Click on the link and you’ll be able to contribute. Great idea. Thanks, Mr. Altman. Good luck as you undertake recovery of this important Columbia cultural asset.