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Category Archives: Lifestyles

Use these tips to help your child avoid ‘summer slide’

Summer vacation presents an opportunity for students to enjoy an extended break from the classroom. While this respite from routine may be a welcome change to youngsters, teachers frequently lament that valuable educational lessons seem to be forgotten each summer. Educators then face tougher hurdles when students return to school in the fall.

Such a phenomenon is sometimes called “summer learning loss” or “summer slide” but it can occur during any extended break from school. Scholars have realized for some time that students’ rate of academic development declines during summer vacation. Oxford Learning, a tutoring and education training group, offers these eye-opening statistics.

• Over the summer, students tend to lose 2.6 months of math skills and two months of reading skills.

• Summer learning loss can be seen in students as young as six.

• It can take up to two months from the first day of school to get students’

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‘Who lynched Willie Earle?’

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

For four weeks we have reviewed some highlights from They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim, the most comprehensive book ever written about the subject. The book was written by Pickens County native and University of Denver professor emeritus William B. Gravely. The book was recently published by the University of South Carolina Press. The book is available for sale at book stores and online at uscpress.com, Amazon or other outlets.

The book has so much interesting information about how the religious and civic communities reacted in this segregated era of South Carolina’s history when a young African-American was taken from the old Pickens jail and brutally beaten, stabbed repeatedly and shot in the face with a shotgun. The murder was carried out by a mob of 31 men who were arrested, arraigned, tried and acquitted in 1947.

Reaction from Pickens County

Gravely writes in great detail how different individuals and groups from the religious communities in the town and county of Pickens reacted. For example, the editor of the weekly Pickens Sentinel, Gary Hiott Sr., a Baptist layman and son of a minister, immediately after the lynching wrote a front-page editorial condemning the lynching and blatantly interfering with Earle’s right to a fair trial. He wrote about the shame the community would share because of this evil. How brave was Hiott to talk of how lynching violated the feelings of Christian people who had a responsibility to provide the protection any human should expect? In the next week’s edition of the Pickens paper, Hiott’s minister at First Baptist Church of Pickens, E.R. Eller, praised Hiott’s editorial,

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No justice for Earle

Guilty go free as mob acquitted in state’s last lynching

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

For the last two weeks we have been reviewing some highlights of “They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim.” This most comprehensive book ever written on the subject is by Pickens County native, William B. “Will” Gravely (Will,) and is available from the University of South Carolina Press at uscpress.com or axland@sc.edu. Gravely, a historian and professor emeritus at the University of Denver, has written a book that should be a required textbook for any college course on Southern history. There would be no better book for understanding Southern culture and how we have struggled with humanitarian progress in law enforcement, religious understandings regarding integration and civil rights for all the different peoples of the South.

The State Versus the Mob

Last week we ended at the start of the trial for the mob that brutally beat, stabbed and shot 24-year-old Willie Earle at close range with a shotgun in February 1947. The mob took him from the old Pickens jail and murdered him just over the county line in Greenville County. At no point in the trial of the 31 defendants, with their 26 written confessions, did the Pickens jailer, Ed Gilstrap, suggest he had the responsibility of protecting his prisoner.

The defense team for the lynchers undermined the state’s case against the mob by bringing focus away from Earle to their fellow cab driver, World War I veteran and friend, Thomas Brown. He had been knifed by one or more assailants, and Earle had been accused in the death. Of course, Brown’s death was irrelevant by law to Earle’s death, but not to the clever defense lawyers.

Another wedge into the state’s case was driven by defense lawyer Thomas Wofford when he scowled that “for some unknown reason” the FBI had led the investigation. Wofford insisted

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Would justice be possible?

31 men arrested and put on trial in Earle’s death

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

Last week, we began a review of William B. Gravely’s book “They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim.” The just-released book from the South Carolina Press (uscpress.com or axland@sc.edu) is the most thoroughly researched book ever on the 1947 lynching of Willie Earle, a black prisoner taken from the old Pickens jail and brutally killed and left on the side of a road across the Greenville County line outside Easley.

The Brutal Murder of Willie Earle

Greenville taxi drivers Roosevelt Hurd, Marvin “Red” Fleming, Griggs, Woodrow Clardy and Hendrix Rector went to Willie Earle’s cell at the old Pickens jail and grabbed him out. Driver Rector grabbed Earle by the collar. Griggs jerked him down steps, and Earle was shoved violently into different drivers. Drivers Hurd, Clardy and Fleming, with help from another driver, threw the prisoner into the lead taxi cab. Hurd was in the front car holding one of the shotguns. He was still partaking of whiskey and was becoming more inebriated as the long night unfolded.

The official drivers’ statements gave different versions of who questioned Earle about knifing cab driver Thomas Brown. Fourteen of the statements from those arrested said that Earle confessed before dying; other statements contradicted. Of course, a confession under such circumstances means little. After passing into Greenville County, the seven remaining taxis stopped to question Earle further. Hurd pointed the shotgun at Willie Earle’s head and Clardy called out not to kill that “negro” in his cab. “That’s where I make my living,” he said, according to statements. Clardy then led the mob to a more secluded spot near the property of the judge who would later conduct the trial.

Gravely writes in a sobering manner, “Arriving at the spot … the central actors gathered around Earle for the last time.” Driver Red Fleming “tried to talk nice to the n—–,” according to driver Charlie Covington’s statement to law officials. Fleming reminded Earle that he didn’t have long to live and coaxed Earle not to “die with a lie in his heart.” Someone shouted that they should take Earle to the hospital and let Thomas Brown identify him. Remember, driver Thomas Brown died after Willie Earle. At this time, Brown was still alive at St. Francis Hospital. The drivers pushed hard to get Earle to identify the other attacker of Brown. Wanting his breath of life for any extended minutes he might get, Earle begged the men to take him where he could identify a person.

Gravely writes, “Suddenly, the talking ceased.” Driver Griggs hit Earle hard in the face. Driver Rector took the shotgun that Clardy

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Pickens native authors book detailing South Carolina’s last lynching

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

In an age of technology, one need only to look at images of lynching victims to start wondering about the stories behind the images.

Pickens native William B. “Will” Gravely — an erudite scholar, renowned historian, polished author and professor emeritus at the University of Denver — has written the most comprehensive book ever on the barbaric lynching of young Willie Earle, a black Pickens County native killed in South Carolina’s last lynching after being taken from the jail by more than two dozen white men in 1947.

Early in America, before the Civil War, lynching referred to hanging. The term “lynching” gained broader meaning when hanging was replaced by easier and other acts of violence and torture, such as burnings, shootings, knifings, etc., of someone suspected of a crime. Lynching no longer means hanging only.

The 24-year-old Earle, who suffered from epilepsy, was taken from the old Pickens County jail, now the Pickens County Museum of Art and History. He was taken by a mob of taxi drivers from Greenville County in February 1947. Earle was beaten, stabbed repeatedly and shot at very close range in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun; his was a horrific murder. Gravely’s book, “They Stole

Him out of Jail,” is very recently published by the University of South Carolina Press (uscpress.com). The book is not only about the lynching, but is also about our Southern history, and how this lynching reverberated throughout America.

 

There were 26 men who gave confessions. However, there were differences in their testimonies that were troubling. A same incident can be interpreted many ways. When there is no tangible evidence to verify or disqualify an interpretation, how can one know what is

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Bringing the hits

Legendary Oak Ridge Boys set to headline annual Blue Ridge Fest

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

jevans@thepccourier.com

PICKENS — When Richard Sterban joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1972, he had no idea the band would still be going strong 47 years later.

In fact, some people questioned the wisdom of his decision at first.

“I was in kind of a unique position in my life,” Sterban said. “I was with a group called J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet.”

That group was performing with the King himself.

“I was standing pretty much in the dark onstage but I was

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Railroad Festival rolls into Central April 27

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

jevans@thepccourier.com

CENTRAL — The Central Railroad Festival is set for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 26, in downtown Central.

The festival highlights the railroad heritage of Central, which got its name due to being located at the central point of the railroad line linking Atlanta and Charlotte.

Admission to the festival is free, festival director Noreene Billado said.

“There’s also free parking at remote sites with free CAT Bus shuttles to the festival,” she said.

This year’s festival features “lots of kids activities,” Billado said.

“There will be inflatables, crafts they can make and take (and) a children’s stage,” she said.

The children’s stage will host a children’s entertainer and magician, a martial arts group, Elevation Dance from Pendleton

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Holly Springs Center expanding offerings with special events

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

jevans@thepccourier.com

PICKENS — Holly Springs Center director Abby Baker wishes more people knew about the center and all it offers.

“Marketing this is something we absolutely have to do, have to figure out,” Baker said. “We have to get ourselves out there.”

Not long after School District of Pickens County officials announced Holly Springs Elementary School would close, community members rallied in 2017 to discuss how the school facility could continue to serve the community.

The nonprofit center offered its first slate of summer programming later that year. It now offers School of Mountain

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Honoring Their Service

Pickens High baseball hosts Military Appreciation Day event

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

bnimmons@thepccourier.com

PICKENS — For the first time, the Pickens High School baseball team held a rousing Military Appreciation Day celebration Friday to honor military personnel during a game against Walhalla.

More than 50 current and former members of the United States Armed Forces were in attendance for the game, which saw the Blue Flame come up on the wrong end of a 10-2 final score against the Razorbacks.

The night began with Cadet Maj. Jordan Rucker delivering a student-led message to those on hand before the game, and members of each branch of the military were honored as their service anthems were played.

The largest of the pre-game festivities started soon after, as Command Sgt. Russell Vickery, the state commander of the Army National Guard, flew onto the field in a Blackhawk helicopter. Vickery threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Pickens baseball player, and current Army National

Six Mile marks anniversary of devastating 1929 tornado

By Ron Barnett
Staff Reporter

rbarnett@thepccourier.com

SIX MILE —

In the evening of March 13, 1929, a tornado swept through the tiny town of Six Mile, killing nine people — all of them relatives — and leaving tragic second-hand memories that remain even today, 90 years later.

Descendants of the storm’s victims, the families of Benjamin Tillman Garrett, the town’s postmaster, and his brother, George Nelson Garrett, a deputy sheriff, gathered on the anniversary of the tragedy last Wednesday to call to mind

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