A Gathering On Appalachian Life

New festival coming to Pickens Feb. 28

Just before Christmas 2014, local cultural enthusiast Betty McDaniel had a visit from the Ghost of Appalachia Past. It started late in the night, and she was visited at 1, 2, and 3 o’clock by the 1-7 Page 1B.inddGhosts of Appalachia Past, Present, and Yet to Be. At first, her husband, Ed, thought it mere indigestion, a fragment of an underdone potato or a blurb of mustard.

However, early the next morning, after her visions, Betty began to startle everyone and set things in motion. Her vision has resulted in a Pickens County first — “A Gathering on Appalachian Life,” a festival of activities to be held Feb. 28 at the Hagood Community Center (also known as the Pickens Senior Center), with registration at 8:30 a.m. and first session at 9 a.m.

Betty began to react to her visions by contacting major organizations that might be interested in sponsoring such a gathering. Those buying into her visions were such groups as the Pickens County Historical Society, Pickens Revitalization Association, the Hagood Mill Historic Site and Folklife Center, Birchwood Center for Arts and Folklife and Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music, Inc. (POSAM).

The things Betty has been able to accomplish after the ghosts’ visits are as remarkable as the transformations that took place after a similar set of ancient ghosts visited Ebenezer Scrooge, also just before Christmas.

Many facets of our Appalachian past will be featured. There will be a general session and four break-out sessions. Each of the four sessions will include many opportunities from which the people in attendance at the festival might choose: Appalachian music, Appalachian quilt and rug making, Appalachian heritage in cooking, the making of musical instruments, moonshining, Native American technology, Appalachian genealogy and many different tours.

While the Hagood Center will serve as the base for activities, other venues such as Hagood Mill will be used as well.

Appalachian Music

If you like Appalachian music, you will encounter a real treat. There will be everything from using spoons, jugs and washboards for musi, to instruction for making a genuine Appalachian instrument of your own. Janet Hardin will teach the basics of playing a lap dulcimer, and Steve McGaha will lead a session on Appalachian folk music. There will be singalongs at this Appalachian gathering and there will be a session on Appalachian gospel music.

When the Ghost of Appalachia Present had Betty touch his robe, they flew to Nashville, Tenn., and the Opryland Hotel. There, Pickens County’s own Hot Foot Cloggers of Six Mile were performing to the delight, screeches, whistling and clapping of the large, uninhibited auditorium crowd. Betty asked the ghost, “Why can’t we have them perform at a festival in Pickens?”

The ghost replied without making eye contact, “Oh my dear! All the good intentions in the world don’t add up to one single little inviting act.”

So Betty acted on the vision, and look out! What kind of an Appalachian gathering would it be without a little dancing? A large contingent of the Hot Foot Cloggers will demonstrate drag-style and flatfoot clogging, and moves for old Appalachian square dancing. Look for a dance floor full of hot feet.

Quilt and Rug Making

At 3 o’clock in the morning of the ghosts’ visits, the Ghost of Appalachia Yet To Be took Betty to one of the classes in quilt and rug making taught by Lucy Harward and Jacquie Moraska at the Hagood Community Center in Pickens. Several people were bustling about at work on their own rugs and quilts. Betty exclaimed, “That’s a tradition that must not die! Spirit, please tell me it won’t die.”

The ghost replied, “It will, my dear, if no one acts to continue it in the time yet to be.”

You want to see quilt and rug making at its best? Then you must see Harward’s Log Cabin Quilt and Moraska’s Cathedral Window Quilt. There are currently 20 groups of folks in Pickens attending classes at the Hagood Community Center and using fiber arts in the old Appalachian manner. Lucy can help you quilt, sew, crochet, hook and anything else one can do with fiber art.

Moonshining, Cooking

and Other Aspects of

Appalachian Heritage

Because of the isolation of much of Appalachia, moonshining has always been associated with its steep ridges, deep hollows and cold, pristine mountain water. Our upper Pickens County offered ideal conditions. At the Appalachian gathering, you can see a real moonshine still and see exactly how moonshine was made in this region. You can hear from a retired (reformed?) moonshiner.

All Appalachian gatherings must include food. Lunch served the day of the gathering at the Hagood Community Center will be an old Appalachian staple, chicken and dumplings, greens and apple cobbler. There will also be a demonstration by Carol Bozarth on how to make corn pone and Johnny cakes. Yum! Yum! Frank and Lib Porter will teach how to recognize, pick and use Southern Appalachian herbs in cooking and for whatever ails you.

An accomplished storyteller and writer, Dot Jackson, will talk about talk — our talk — and names like Sugar Likker Lake and Nine Times.

If anyone can speak about emotional ties to places in Souhern Appalachia, Dennis Chastain can. He represents the seventh generation of Chastains to occupy his family’s old home place near Table Rock. Dennis is a well-known Pickens County writer, historian and naturalist. Dennis will also have a special power point presentation on the upcountry portion of the old Cherokee Path that ran from the mountains and valleys of East Tennessee to the South Carolina coast.

Roger Lindsay will have a huge display of Native American artifacts and will show how they can be made. He not only makes replicas of the artifacts but can demonstrate their use most impressively. Roger has researched and developed Native American skills for decades.

Yours truly — Thomas Cloer Jr. — is a person who really believes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I, a person truly from a road less graveled, will speak to why we from Southern Appalachia yearn to know, enact and repeat aspects of our Appalachian heritage.

Connie McNeil, past president of the South Carolina Genealogical Society, will speak to ways one can trace one’s ancestry. The Poor Palatines, some of the ancestors of Dr. McNeil and me, emigrated from the Palatinate of Germany.

There will also be guided tours to places like the pre-Civil War Hagood-Mauldin House, a most interesting house where the guide will take you far back into the history of the old Pickens District. When the guide was leading my small group, I could imagine all the people in the different places of the house and how they looked and spoke.

Allen Coleman will guide groups through the Pickens County Art and History Museum, which focuses on the history of this place “where the mountains begin.” You will be as dazzled as I was by the museum’s comprehensive displays and artifacts.


Wow! I am sorry Betty McDaniel had such a tumultuous night with the ghosts. But just like in “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, all of us in this place, like those around Ebenezer Scrooge in London, will benefit from the ghosts’ visits to the bucolic farm house of Ed and Betty McDaniel. After the visits to Ebenezer Scrooge, many families were affected for years to come. Bob Cratchit, his family, and especially Tiny Tim with his medical costs, weren’t the only ones affected. There was his nephew, Fred, and all the less-fortunate people, from Christmas 1843 until now, who have been assisted because of the ghosts’ visits, and how that changed the perception of one person.

In a similar manner, the ghosts that visited the historic old McDaniel home place just before Christmas will forever affect Pickens County. There will be a greater sense of pride, a larger inheritance to leave those who come after us, and a much better sense of place. Just as Scrooge said after he had unexpectedly showed up at the Christmas party of Fred, his nephew, “Wonderful party! Wonderful games! Wonderful unanimity.”

See you at the Hagood Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 28. If you pay in January, the cost is $15. In February, the cost will be $20. The Appalachian lunch will be $5. This is an unbelievable bargain considering the many possibilities for more than 30 different interactive workshops. If you need a registration form, email McDaniel at or call her at (864) 878-4257.