Category Archives: Lifestyles

Run-ins with the dangerous creatures of the Jocassee Gorges

My children and grandchildren always loved the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak.

The Jocassee Gorges here in our county are full of wild things. While these wild animals may not be as bad as imagined by the main character, Max, in Sendak’s classic, there are still some dangers.

My ancestors and my immediate family have spent many wonderful hours collectively camping, picnicking, exploring, fishing, hunting and photographing in Jocassee and other wilderness areas in

An in-depth look at of one of the world’s great wonders

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

I have always been interested in caves. I have tried to psychoanalyze myself to understand why.

I think Mark Twain had an early effect on me. I do remember vividly the writings of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) about Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. Becky was Tom Sawyer’s sweetheart. They were on a ferry boat ride that stopped to visit McDougal’s Cave in the novel, “The Adventures

Dad-approved gifts to celebrate Father’s Day

An entire day dedicated to dear ol’ dad may not be enough to show the depths of your appreciation, but a hug, a heartfelt thanks and some quality time (even from afar) are great places to start.

When it comes to giving gifts for Father’s Day, practical and purposeful gifts are high on most dads’ lists. Think about his favorite things to eat and the ways he spends his coveted down time. A gift that celebrates the things that matter most to him is sure to earn dad’s gratitude.

Find more ideas to make it a Father’s Day to remember at

Special steaks  to celebrate dad

Father’s Day gifting can be pretty simple: Many dads want a delicious steak. Give him a collection of

Financial support needed for Soapstone Baptist Church

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PUMPKINTOWN — Soapstone Baptist Church has been a part of Mable Clarke all her life, and she wants to make sure the church is on a firm financial footing when she is gone.

A fundraiser is underway to pay off the church mortgage’s remaining $50,000, Clarke said.

“We’re down to nine members that’s left at the church,” Clarke said Sunday. “We have to get this paid off by December, because we’re facing a maturity date coming up on the church.”

For the past 14 years, Clarke has been overseeing monthly fish frys to support the church and its

Billboard salutes PHS Class of 2020

The members of the Pickens Azalea Festival committee may not have been able to host the annual Pickens Azalea Festival in April, but they have found a way to honor the Pickens High School Class of 2020 — with a billboard on S.C. Highway 8 near the Landmark Baptist Church sign. The sign went up on Monday. Pickens High School principal Corey Willimon agreed to allow the Azalea committee to purchase the billboard to honor all the hard work and dedication the students have shown during this unique time amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. The pandemic has forced the closure of schools across the nation. Students are finishing the school year through e-learning and missing out on so many traditional senior year activities.


Analyzing the aftermath of Charles Silver’s killing

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

Last week we introduced the killing of Charles Silver, on Dec. 22, 1831, by his petite teenage wife, Frankie Stewart Silver, in what was then Burke County, N.C.

My Howell ancestors played a most significant role in this story. My great-grandmother was Fannie Jane Howell. Frankie’s mother was Barbara Howell, who married Isaiah Stewart.

My great-great-great-great-grandfather, James A Howell Sr., and his son, Thomas Howell, were key witnesses in the trial that sent Frankie to the gallows. So — what happened? I refer to Perry Deane Young’s 2012 book, “The Untold Story of Frankie Stewart: Was She Unjustly Hanged?” After the most thorough research in 187 years, I believe Young shows clearly that Frankie should not have been hanged.

Frankie panics

So, What happened? When her inebriated, abusive husband was loading his gun to kill Frankie and their 13-month-old baby, Frankie grabbed the closest thing — an ax — and struck at Charles’ head. The sharp ax — accidentally, I think — made a cut three inches long and

The wrongful hanging of a Southern Appalachian girl

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

In the 1830s, my maternal Howell ancestors in Yancey County, N.C., were inextricably involved with one of the most bizarre trials ever to occur in Southern Appalachia — and the subsequent hanging of a white teenage mother.

My mother’s name was Fannie Grace Cloer. She was a namesake of her maternal grandmother, Fannie Jane Howell, of Yancey County. My grandmother, Bonnie Missouri Woody, daughter of Fannie Jane Howell, lived in the remote mountains of Yancey County with Fannie Jane and Bonnie’s father, George Woody.


The bizarre killing of Charles Silver in 1831 involved his pretty wife, Frances “Frankie” Stewart Silver. This took place in Kona, N.C., in what was then Burke County, near the North Carolina and

Mom, I.O.U.

I imagine Mother’s Day is a very sad occasion when it comes around for the first time after you’ve lost your mother. For a mother who loses a son, it must be that much more sorrowful to face the day without him for the first time.

So my heart goes out to Maud Bryant, Browning Bryant’s mom, who lost the bright shining star in her life late last year.

She told me, though, that as she approaches this holiday, she has found solace in a letter he wrote to her for her 90th birthday in 2016. I later found out that the letter was adapted from a Jimmy Dean song called “I.O.U.” that reached the country top 10 in 1976.

Browning intended to read it to her at her birthday party, but it was so noisy, he didn’t get to. But she came across it the other day and offered to share it.

“Let me tell you, this letter that he wrote to me, every mother would certainly appreciate what he had to say to me,” she said.

I agree with her on that. Pretty much everything he said would apply to my mom, too.

Browning, in case you don’t know, was a Pickens native who rose to national fame as a singer in his

Allergies or COVID-19?

As winter gave way to spring, nature did not give any signs in relation to what the people of the world were going through. As trees and flowers bloomed just like they do every spring, the people accustomed to witnessing the awe-inspiring transformation on display each spring were experiencing a transformation of their own.

Social distancing measures enacted during the COVID-19 outbreak in late-winter 2020 forced many people to stay home, only venturing outside to run routine errands like buying groceries or filling prescriptions. People were urged to stay home to help prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading, and those recommendations included people exhibiting mild symptoms of illness.

As spring hit its stride and pollen counts climbed, many people wondered if certain symptoms they were experiencing were byproducts of seasonal allergies or the COVID-19 virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that it’s easy to mistake common allergy symptoms for COVID-19, and that’s especially so given the level of concern many people have about the novel coronavirus that has already claimed thousands of victims across the globe. But it’s

When to use soap and water, when to use hand sanitizer

In the wake of the global COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, millions of people across the globe found themselves scrambling for hand sanitizer. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that cleaning hands at key times is one of the most important steps people can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs, there are differences between washing with soap and water and washing with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

The CDC notes that preventing the